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Canada: Justin Trudeau preaches pot patience: 'We need to do this right' on legalization
Friday 17 Jun 2016
The prime minister, who believes pot should be legal and has admitted he toked after being elected to Parliament, defended the Liberal government’s decision earlier this week to vote down an NDP motion to decriminalize simple marijuana possession.
Instead, he urged Canadians to wait until his government finishes extensive consultations, plus considers studies of other jurisdictions that have already legalized the drug, before drafting legislation expected in the first half of 2017.
That raises the possibility a new law won’t be in place until 2018.
“I understand the impatience of people who want to have it legalized right away, but we know we need to do this right,” Trudeau said in an exclusive interview while in Vancouver to announce transit funding and discuss the local housing affordability crisis.
One Liberal goal with legalization is to reduce access to pot for young Canadians.
“Whatever you might like to say about marijuana being not as bad as alcohol or cigarettes, it is bad for the developing brain,” he said.
Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin: ’We are faced with an injustice.’ Handout
Trudeau said decriminalization would do nothing to deal with that concern and almost certainly put more riches in the bank accounts of organized criminals.
“Where do … shops get their marijuana from? Largely from criminal organizations and gangs, because it’s illegal. Now I’m sure some grow their own, but we do not have a controlled and regulated regime around that, and people are going to have to be patient.”
Earlier this week, NDP justice critic Murray Rankin said the existing “patchwork” system is unfair because in cities like St. John’s, Nfld., and Vancouver, pot possession charges are either minimal or non-existent, as police focus on dealers and other criminals.
The Victoria MP said Kelowna police lay charges at a rate 25 times higher than police in St. John’s.
“We are faced with an injustice,” Rankin said.
“We are faced with a situation that is difficult to explain to the parents of young adults, when I am called by a mother in tears who says her child has just been convicted of the possession of small quantities of marijuana.
“That young adult will not be able to get a job because he or she will have a record and will be at the bottom of the pile when it comes to job applicants. He or she will no doubt be unable to travel to the United States and will face heavy consequences, including perhaps finding a place to rent when it is disclosed on his or her application.”
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