How Fast Can Trudeau Legalize Cannabis?

When Will Canada Legalize Marijuana?
It's been less than 30 days in 'The Canadas', post Harper's Conservative reign, and newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has already started making strong Liberal waves as he appointed a 'very 2015 cabinet'. And while there have been a horrible string of international human tragedies paired with controversial military decisions, Trudeau has continued an aggressive pace for domestic reforms. One of his first targets: the Canadian Criminal Code.

This week Trudeau sent a formal letter of direction to his newly appointed Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould,

"You should conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade with a mandate to assess the changes, ensure that we are increasing the safety of our communities, getting value for money, addressing gaps and ensuring that current provisions are aligned with the objectives of the criminal justice system,"

So, what does this all mean? Well, when considering legalization on a Federal level in Canada, it's a very swift and direct process for a majority government. It simply involves the removal of cannabis from Schedule II of Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. And with Christmas coming, and MPs longing to be back home in their ridings, and not stuck in lengthy evening House debates, maybe the timing has never been better. Christmas is fast approaching...

While that may all sound very easy, such a repeal must still pass the Parliament's Senate. And with 10 years of Tories in power, some of which as majority, The House has been stacked with vintage conservatives, despite previous formal recommendations by Senate to review / repeal Canada's cannabis laws.

But don't hold your breath just yet on marijuana legalization in Canada...

If you want legalization of cannabis, not just decriminalization, you likely won't have to wait past Canada Day 2016 at the pace things are moving. But the true complications and hold up will come at the Provincial level where provincial governments will be responsible for the management, taxation, and distribution of retail cannabis. While strong frameworks are already in place for the facilitation of liquor and tobacco sales, there will certainly be debate and politicking for power and control over this new revenue stream.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale also has a very full plate regarding the thorough review of Bill C-51 and its impact on mandatory sentencing, particularly for those currently in prison for cannabis related crimes, and the lawful Canadian citizen's right to grow. Currently, as it stands, there are no said mandatory sentences on the books for citizens growing less than 6 plants. So, what does this mean in an Unscheduled and Legalized world? No one at the top is really saying or officially proposing anything yet. But you might assume the Home Depot will be selling a lot more gardening fare this coming summer...

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Alli Kozak
Alli Kozak

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