Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a move which is sure to win support from millennials, announced in a press conference that Canada will become the second nation in the world to completely legalize the use of marijuana.
The New York Times reports that the Trudeau government “hoped to begin allowing legal sales by the middle of 2018” and that the federal government will license and regulate pot growers. Trudeau fulfilled a campaign promise which he made on behalf of his Liberal Party, and the legislation should easily pass. As marijuana legalization is broadly popular amongst Canadians, the move should bolster Trudeau’s popularity which has sagged as of late.
Doing Too Much or Too Little?
But while the victory could be hailed as a great victory for marijuana enthusiasts, the devil with any legislation is in the details. Trudeau could find himself in a situation where he places not enough regulations on pot to please those against legalization, and yet too many restrictions for those who want legalization.
Trudeau’s government made it very clear with the announcement that legalization did not mean the end of marijuana regulation. Users will not be allowed to carry more than 30 grams, measures will be implemented to bar using pot and driving, and selling marijuana without a license will remain a serious crime. Still, it would allow the government to concentrate on more serious drug issues, such as the growing heroin epidemic.
Perhaps the biggest concern for marijuana advocates is that while Canada’s federal government will set the ground rules, the provinces will determine when and where it can actually be sold. Theoretically, the provinces could declare that marijuana is legal, but can only be sold by a hermit living in the woods for one day per year.
Pro-marijuana advocates like Trudeau often argue that if marijuana was legalized, it could be taxed and regulated to keep people safe and bring money into government coffers. But other individuals like David Reely with the Ottawa Citizen argue that this legalization is just another phase in the unpopular War on Drugs.
Marijuana may be popular in Canada, but the decision over how it will be legalized and who can regulate is clearly shaping up to be a tougher battle for Trudeau and his country in the coming months.