- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said a plan to legalize and regulate marijuana within Canada could come to fruition as early as this summer, putting the Liberal leader on path to accomplishing one of his most ambitious campaign promises.

Mr. Trudeau, addressing reporters at a naval base in Victoria, British Columbia, said the government is finalizing legislation that will rein in Canada’s pot prohibition and put in its place a federally-regulated framework for buying and selling weed.

“The current law remains the law,” he said. “We are hoping to bring in legislation before the summer, we’re working very hard on that but I cannot stress enough, until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current law applies.”

The federal government in Ottawa hopes to accomplish two goals in particular by legalizing pot, the prime minister told reporters.

“The first is to protect our kids,” he said. “Right now we know that young people have easier access to marijuana than just about any other illicit substance. It’s easier to buy a joint for a teenager than it is to buy a bottle of beer. That’s not right.

“Secondly, we know that criminal organizations and street gangs are making billions of dollars off of the sale of marijuana,” he added. “We feel that regulating it, controlling it will bring that revenue out of the pockets of criminals and put it into a system where we can both monitor, tax it and ensure that we are supporting people who are facing challenges related or unrelated to drug use.”

Some officials have urged the prime minister to take broader action beyond cannabis. Terry Lake, British Columbia’s health minister, recently proposed that the federal government decriminalize other drugs in an effort to confront a growing opioid crisis on Canada’s west coast and told The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday the nation’s war on drugs “has largely been a failure.”

“Let’s put a public health lens on this,” Mr. Lake told the newspaper, which cited over 920 fatal drug overdoses having occurred just last year in the province.

Mr. Trudeau, however, said his government doesn’t plan on decriminalizing any other drugs at the moment.

“We are not planning on including any other illicit substances in the move towards legalizing and controlling and regulating,” he said.

Sixty-nine percent of Canadians said they supported legalizing cannabis, according to a 2016 Nanos poll. Government economics, meanwhile, recently predicted the nation’s legal marijuana industry could be worth upwards of $23 billion annually once off the ground.


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