Will Canada Legalise Weed?

Cannabis, commonly known as weed, has been in the eye of the storm in North America. Many states in the US have already legalised cannabis and there has been a growing lobby to legalise cannabis in Canada.

With a new Prime Minister and an ever changing world, could cannabis become a drug that is legal to carry and consume?

Current Legal Status of Cannabis

Before moving forward in the post, let us understand the current legal status of cannabis in Canada. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act effectively made cannabis illegal in 1996. However, in 2001, medical cannabis became available for a variety of individuals who have medical problems.

Two attempts were previously made to decriminalise cannabis in 2003 and 2004. However, they failed due to pressure from America’s DEA and our own internal politics.

Courts, however, have lent fresh perspective to the issue. The courts have time and again mentioned that the prohibition of marijuana is unconstitutional for medical use (R. v. Parker in 2000 and R. v. Long in 2007 cases).

A number of provinces have legalised the growth of cannabis and since July 2015, Vancouver has even legalised pot shops.

The Curious Case of Vancouver

The current status of cannabis is that it is legal for medical use, and though various sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have been struck down by the Courts, the Act is still in effect. With a costly license fee and zoning control, many pot shops have been legally approved by the City of Vancouver. Though these pot shops will only sell medical cannabis, which has been made legal by the courts, a pot shop is essentially a retail storefront and retail sale of cannabis is still illegal.

The New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau became the Prime Minister in November 2015 and he has openly stated his pro- marijuana stance. A mandate sent across to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada states, “Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

To answer the Question

The answer to the question ‘Will Canada legalise weed?’ is probably yes, but not soon. PM Justin Trudeau faces a massive job ahead of him. It will have to be seen if cannabis legalisation remains a policy issue for him. And if it does, he will have to either amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or scrap the Act and introduce a new Act to ensure that drugs are controlled or prohibited accordingly. Amending the law is just the start, there are policy and implementation issues that will crop up too.

Currently, Canada’s legislative system is only comfortable with legalising cannabis for medical use and there is a long way ahead before cannabis will be legalised for public consumption.