Canada’s Prime Minister: Legal Marijuana Is About Health and Safety, Not Money | Marijuana

Canada’s Prime Minister: Legal Marijuana Is About Health and Safety, Not Money

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The new prime minister of Canada, who campaigned on legalizing marijuana, said Thursday that he wants the country to take the time it needs to get the details right and that it’s important for the government make its cannabis policy decisions for the right reasons.

Ending prohibition “was never about a money maker. It was always about public health, public safety,” said Justin Trudeau, who was sworn in as the head of Canada’s federal government last month.

“The big reason we chose to commit to controlling and regulating marijuana is to keep young people safe,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press.

Setting an optimal tax rate for marijuana will be a crucial decision, Trudeau said. “The fact is that if you tax it too much, as we saw with cigarettes, you end up with driving things towards a black market, which will not keep Canadians safe, particularly young Canadians.”

And the prime minister wants the revenues generated from legal sales to be put into reducing drug abuse.

“There’s a potential for a bit of revenue on that but we’re certainly not looking for a windfall,” he said. “And it is certainly our thought that money that comes in should go towards addiction treatment and mental health support and education programs, rather than financing general revenue.”

Separately, in a press conference, the prime minister said it was important for the federal government to consult with local officials to formulate cannabis policies that work best for their communities.

When it comes to setting the details about where and how marijuana will be sold to consumers, “obviously the provinces, and indeed the municipalities, will have to be an integral part of that discussion,” Trudeau said.

It’s unclear exactly how much latitude the prime minister wants to give localities in setting cannabis industry regulations, but he made it clear that he at least wants their voices to be heard as the federal government moves forward.

“We’re expecting there to be different perspectives and different solutions put forward across the country by various municipalities and provinces,” he said. “The challenge of getting this important initiative right is one of ensuring that we are broadly listening to partners, to folks from the medical marijuana industry to municipal partners to provinces and of course drawing on best practices from around the world.”

In both Thursday appearances, Trudeau argued that legalization would protect kids and hurt criminals.

“The move to legalize, to control, to regulate marijuana is based on a concern that it is too easy for our young people to access marijuana right now, that we have the highest rate of underage use of marijuana of any of 29 different developed countries. And that has to stop,” he said.

“We need to make sure we’re keeping our kids safe and keeping our communities safe by removing the black market and the criminal gangs and street organizations from it,” Trudeau said, adding that cannabis regulation will “remove a significant revenue stream” from organized crime.

Health Minister Jane Philpott said last month that the government has already begun the process of examining potential legalization models. Less than two weeks after being sworn in, Trudeau directed her to work with other cabinet ministers to craft a plan to end prohibition. The actions are in accordance with Trudeau’s campaign pledge to move on legalization “right away” if elected.

In the country’s October 19 elections, Trudeau’s Liberal Party won an outright majority of seats in the House of Commons, meaning that the new prime minister should be able to enact a new marijuana policy without much meaningful resistance.

It isn’t publicly known what timetable Trudeau will direct his government to move forward by, or what the process of settling on a legalization model will entail.

“We’re going to get this right in a way that suits Canadians broadly and specifically in their communities, and why we’re taking the time to weigh in properly and ensure that we’re achieving our goals of protecting our young people and removing the criminal profits from marijuana,” Trudeau said.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

3 Comments

  1. If the concern is health and safety then keep the cannabis out of liquor stores.
    Alcohol is dangerous and some folks use cannabis to get off alcohol.
    They don’t want to see booze when they’re getting their medicine.

    • Carlene Stark-lafarge on

      i totally agree with you Paulpot. Why not in head shops (420 shops) ? i think it is absurd to go to a liquor store, to buy cannabis, whereas head shops have all the tools to go with cannabis, would make more sense to me.

  2. Fievel Mousekewitz on

    I am very anxious to see Canada follow through on this, as maybe it’ll get the US Government thinking. at least I hope, as it needs a kick in the head. We’ll look like fools, if we don’t at least do a whole country decriminalization on cannabis. I believe and hope, that the US Supreme Court rules the marijuana laws unconstitutional. And that up to one ounce should be legal to carry.

    I hope that they realize this is a law, which can not be truly enforced.
    The Government’s dirty little secrete isn’t such a secrete on this issue any longer, and people actually know now days.

    It is time for a responsible approach to the Marijuana laws.

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