Canada’s new government is apparently dead serious about promises to make cannabis legal in the Great White North. Recently elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government reiterated in December that they plan to carry through on their vows to legalize.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The announcement came during a speech by David Johnston, the country’s governor general, in which he explained the government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada, and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during this year’s campaign that he plans to add recreational cannabis as soon as feasible.

Details were vague. Johnston said the government has plans to restrict access to cannabis, presumably meaning certain people, such as children, won’t be able to buy it. But he didn’t explain exactly what that might mean.

Dedicated to fixing a “failed system”

Trudeau has made legalization a key element of his platform. He said he wants to fix a “failed system” and take the drug away from the “criminal element.” And he has indicated that he wants to analyze legal marijuana programs in Colorado and Washington State before deciding how to structure reform in Canada.

The prime minister took office after a sweeping electoral victory in October that marked the end of the nation’s second-longest campaign season – 78 days. His predecessor, Stephen Harper, was defeated by a wide margin, as was his Conservative Party. Trudeau’s Liberals now hold a majority of seats in Parliament, with the opposition split between the Conservatives and a smaller left-wing party.

Trudeau’s Liberal Party holds a parliamentary majority

Canada half marijuanaThis means the Liberals will have broad powers and a good chance at enacting legalization. Indeed, Trudeau’s promise on that front was one of the main reasons he was elected. Younger voters in particular were eager to see reform.

It’s anybody’s guess exactly when that will happen, but it could be soon. If and when it does, it will mark a watershed moment in the history of marijuana reform, making Canada only the second country in the world to both allow recreational use and regulate a legal cannabis industry.

Success in Canada could act as a further catalyst in the United States. With legal marijuana available just across the longest border in North America, it could be hard to prevent it from spreading south. New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont: Each of these states borders Canada, and each is likely to legalize in the next few years.


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