Though it was an election promise, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals aren’t going to be able to legalize marijuana overnight.
In fact, the legalization of pot might take longer than the four years they are guaranteed before the next federal election in Oct. 2019.
Undoubtedly, the federal government would like to get started on this promise, since it’s worth millions of tax dollars every year. But when you consider what they already have on their plate, what with ISIS, Syrian refugees, assisted dying and, oh yes, the economy, it’s understandable that legalizing pot might not be the top item on the Liberals to-do list.
Still, the promise was made, and with pot already legalized in Washington and Colorado, there is a certain expectation that it is a promise they will follow through on. That leaves our police and justice system in a bit of a legal limbo.
All the existing prohibitions are still in force, but police have had a hard enough time enforcing those and getting punitive judgments without the concept of legalization hanging over their heads, in addition to the limited legalization of medicinal marijuana.
Medicinal marijuana is legal. But the interpretation of that law, which has seen marijuana storefronts open up across the country, needs to be clarified. Legalization and setting up the associated processes may take years, but in the meantime, the RCMP, courts and even municipalities need to know how to proceed.
And this has to happen before more dollars are spent on what may prove unnecessary enforcement. Is a crackdown at this stage an effective use of resources?
Instead, let’s set out a timeline of how this is going to happen and set some preliminary regulations for licensing and regulation of sales.