Trudeau Talks Tough on Cannabis Legalisation

by Calum Armstrong

Justin Trudeau has boldly re-iterated that, when it comes to legalising cannabis, safety is a top priority for Canada.

In an interview with CTV news earlier this week, the Canadian PM discussed the importance of legalising cannabis as a protective measure for public health:

The reason why legalizing marijuana is the right step for us is because of two things:

One, it will be make it harder for young people to access marijuana, because whatever you say about marijuana compared to alcohol or cigarettes, we know that the impact on the developing brain is something we need to prevent. Right now, young people have easy access. Controlling and regulating it will make it more difficult for them.

Crucially, Trudeau stressed his preference for legalisation, as opposed to decriminalisation, which he feels does not do enough to shut down the criminal market and to prevent children from consuming cannabis:

Two, we need to remove the criminal element –streets gangs, the organized crime – from the sale of marijuana. Regulating it and controlling it will do that.

Decriminalizing does absolutely nothing on either of those two things. If you decriminalize it, you make it easier for kids to access it. Decriminalize it, you continue to have organized crime controlling marijuana. That is counter to why we want to do it. That is why decriminalization has never been interesting to us.

Trudeau’s slow-and-steady approach to legalisation follows on from the words of caution issued earlier on in the year from Bill Blair, former chief of Toronto police, now parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice.

It’s an interesting piece of framing from smooth-operator Trudeau: in placing the safeguarding of children first and foremost, the Canadian PM hopes to allay fears around the effects of cannabis consumption on the developing brain, all the while opening up space for new social entrepreneurial initiatives the legalised cannabis market is already starting to offer.

We will be keeping you completely up to date as Trudeau’s bold plan moves forward.

Words by Calum Armstrong tweets @vf_calum

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