One of the more controversial items on Justin Trudeau’s agenda is going forward: the newly minted Canadian PM has given his first official order starting the process towards legalizing weed.
He issued a public mandate letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould late last week. Trudeau outlined the Liberal’s top priorities. Among them was to work with the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health ministers to “create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
The letter also called for a review on sentencing reforms, in order to reduce incarceration rates, particularly ‘petty’ drug crimes. Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, including growing marijuana—a policy that has been widely criticized.
There’s no real marijuana policy in Canada, clouding police forces across the country. For better or worse, they’ve been using their own discretion to determine whether or not to enforce current drug laws.
For example in Nanaimo, BC, the RCMP recently ordered many medical marijuana dispensaries in the city to shut down, or potentially face criminal prosecution. But in Vancouver – in the same province – cops generally don’t lay charges for simple possession.
“Prime Minister Trudeau has given Jody Wilson-Raybould a very full plate, a very ambitious agenda, a very challenging agenda, but one that if fully realized could really change the face of the justice system in Canada,” said Carissima Mathen, a law professor at the University of Ottawa.
“So a potentially very exciting set of challenges.”
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada has reiterated it will continue to prosecute drug offences under the existing laws. Whatever those are right now.