Back in April, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office, he officially announced that recreational marijuana legalization would be coming to Canada by the spring of 2017 – only a short year away. Since then there hasn’t been much talk about it – until this past week, that is, when a task force designed to help guide the government in creating a legal framework for the industry was announced. The nine member panel is being led by Ann McLellan, a former Deputy Prime Minister (under Paul Martin, who was also a former health and justice minister).
Along with McLellan the team is comprised of public health professionals, substance abuse counselors, law enforcement and justices. Together the team will be looking to places where legal marijuana is a successful venture, as well as taking suggestions from the Canadian public on how they might enable adults to access cannabis while simultaneously keeping it out of the hands of children and teens. They have even set up a website where Canadians can leave their suggestions up until August 29th of this year.
“We have confidence that the individuals who make up the Task Force have the expertise, knowledge and credibility necessary to provide us with thoughtful advice on the design of a system of strict marijuana production, distribution, and regulated sales,” said Jody Wilson-Raybould the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Along with letting the public know that they are not only truly preparing to come up with new laws to govern legal cannabis use, cultivation and sale, the government has also made it a point to remind the citizens that at this time, cannabis use, possession and cultivation are still illegal – unless you are a registered part of their medical marijuana program. Just because the laws are in the process of changing, doesn’t mean they will give up on the laws in place for the time being, unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way.
A group called the New Democrats have been urging the government to decriminalize simple possession of cannabis until the new laws are created; this way, casual users will not find themselves in a criminal court case less than a year before the laws have changed. Sadly many believe that temporary decriminalization does “not meet any of our objectives”, which of course is to regulate and restrict access to recreational marijuana.
There may have been a better way to go about this grey-area time period where cannabis is not yet legal, but everyone knows it will be in only a matter of months, and at least the Canadian government is standing by their word and moving forward with plans to legalize cannabis by next year. The task force will likely have a better idea of what legalization will look like in Canada later this year, especially if the program is to be rolling out by early next year.