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Legal Cannabis in Canada ‘Right Away’?

By Bill Weinberg · Wed Oct 21, 2015

Cannabis legalization proponents in Canada are rejoicing in the wake of Monday’s elections that gave the Liberal Party a clear majority and positioned its leader Justin Trudeau to become prime minister.

The son of Canada’s revered former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin openly advocates legalization. He even admitted to Huffington Post in 2013 that he had toked since becoming an MP representing Montreal in 2008. He also revealed that his late brother, Michel Trudeau, was facing cannabis possession charges before his death in an avalanche in 1998 and that the experience influenced his position.

In vivid contrast, the Conservative Party’s incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been leading a crackdown on Canada’s medical marijuana program, and even recently called cannabis “infinitely worse” than tobacco. But how easy will it be for Trudeau to follow through on his promise to legalize?

Vancouver’s News 1130 noted Trudeau’s audacious pledge at a September campaign stop in British Columbia.

“The Liberal Party is committed to legalizing and regulating marijuana,” he said. “We are going to get started on that right away.”

But when pressed by reporters as to what “right away” means, he hedged, “We don’t yet know exactly what rate we’re going to be taxing it, how we’re going to control it, or whether it will happen in the first months, within the first year, or whether it’s going to take a year or two to kick in.”

Former British Columbia premier Mike Harcourt (who is now chairman of the True Leaf Medicine medical marijuana company, according to the Vancouver Sun) told News 1130 that he is hopeful the change of government will bring in an “intelligent policy” on cannabis, but it might take some time.

“I think the legalization of the recreational part, dealing with dispensaries, and dealing with provinces and all of that will require an act or parliament,” Harcourt said. “So, it will probably have to wait until next spring or summer, if it is a high priority for the government.”

According to a breakdown provided by Maclean’s, the Conservatives have the harshest position on cannabis by far.

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