Will Canada Legalize Marijuana ?
It's time to talk about the 500 pound elephant in the room, and seeing how no one else wants too, so here we go. Those of us who have been pro legalization for a while, understand that this fight has been going on for a long time. Most people who are a little older, remember the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien attempting to decriminalize cannabis in 2003. We also remember that the idea was shot down mainly due to pressure exerted by the United States. With trade between Canada and The United States estimated to be $662.7 billion in 2015 alone, you can imagine what an impact that could have at the border. Then a similar bill was introduced in November 2004 by the Liberal government of Paul Martin, but that government was defeated in a confidence vote. It's easy to understand that Canada's plan to Legalize Marijuana may be a ruse.
Let's set aside for a minute the issues of trade with the United State, and what are the other international issues with legalization.
Canada is a signature of these three international treaties at the United Nations, all require the criminalization of possession and production of cannabis.
Most people in the legalization movement don't see this as a hindrance, but see it as an opportunity for Canada to take the lead. Either way, it would be expected that Canada would explain to the international community its reasoning for doing so, and would have to take the steps needed to adjust its obligations under these existing conventions.
The federal Liberals could of done a few thing different to prove that is was taking legalization serious, but the signals they were sending were defiantly mixed. From the very beginning with the selection of Former Toronto police Chief Bill Blair as Trudeau's point man on the issue. With all due respect to Mr. Blair, but in light of the recent kettling decision, perhaps he's not the best choice.
Then there is the N.D.P's bill to introduce Decimalization legislation in June. Of course no one expected the Liberals to pass the legislation, but they could of introduced their own. The statement provided by Attorney General Jody Raybould “give a green light to dealers and criminal organizations to continue to sell unregulated and unsafe marijuana to Canadians,” is not an argument at all, considering that's what's going on right now anyway. Decimalization would of gone a long way to demonstrate the governments intent to legalize.
Then in a move that surprised most observers. The Canadian health minister told the UN at a special session of the General Assembly in New York, that Canada's legislation to legalize marijuana will be ready in a year.
"We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals," Jane Philpott - Canadian Health Minister
Some people would ask, Does Canada really need to ask the U.N ? Of course not, but Canada respects its international obligations, and behaves accordingly. So the mixed signals continue.
Perhaps the single most telling signal is, how much money was put aside in the budget to study the issue, or to pay the lawyers to write the law. None, lots for the legal system to enforce the governments out of date Marijuana laws, but not for legalization. The budget has traditionally been the main indicator of a governments genuine intent.
So where does that leave us now ? It leaves us with a government that did not promise to legalize marijuana, until after the N.D.P made it an election issue. A government that chose someone that may not be the best choice to head legalization, considering the geopolitical situation. Also the fact that no money was set aside for this issue, it becomes easy to understand the actions of advocates like Jodie and Mark Emery of Cannabis Culture.
What we believe is more likely happening is, the Canadian government is waiting for more States in the U.S.A to either legalize or decimalize it, before they seriously address this issue. In the meantime we can only hope that Canadian judges give all nonviolent marijuana crimes the justice they deserve.