Canada will introduce legislation next in 2017 to legalize and regulate marijuana, following through with one of Justin Trudeau’s campaign promises made last fall. The announcement came Wednesday, April 20 from Health Minister Jane Philpott in her address to the United Nations session on drug policy.
“We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem,” said Philpott. She went on to say, “Canada will continue to modernize our approach to drug policy. Building on our successes, such as (safe injection sites), our work will embrace upstream prevention, compassionate treatment and harm reduction”.
Philpott has been quoted saying that legalization “will keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals.”
No firm details were given on the bill but the draft regulations – which will entail pretty much everything from packaging policy to how to keep marijuana out the hands of minors – will be open for comment from Canadians.
With this announcement, authorities are left in an awkward situation knowing that legalization is coming but they have to enforce current law.
Chief of the Sakastoon Police Service Clive Weighill said that it’s “a tough time for us to be in right now, because people are expecting it to be legalized. I’ve never in my career come up against a law that we know is imminently going to be changed and is causing this much consternation,”
In order to enforce driving while impaired laws, marijuana breathalyzers are being developed as legalization nears. UBC engineering professor Mina Hoofar says that the $15 device can detect THC in someone’s breath for around 12 hours in seconds.
President of Cannabix Technologies Kal Malhi, whose company raised millions of dollars for the device, said that “Law enforcement has been hungry for it, Society needs something like this, just like it needed the alcohol breathalyzer.”
During Philpott’s address, she remarked “Our approach to drugs must be comprehensive, collaborative and compassionate. It must respect human rights while promoting shared responsibility, and it must have a firm scientific foundation”.
The date of this legalization announcement is reportedly a coincidence according to the Canadian government.