Marijuana advocates point to Liberal hints of what legalization might look like under Justin Trudeau

published on October 21, 2015 by Travis Lupick in The Georgia Straight

The unofficial leader of Canada’s marijuana-reform movement had a succinct reaction to the Liberal’s October 19 victory over the tough-on-crime Conservatives.

“Holy smokes,” Jodie Emery said in a telephone interview. “We were all joking about how activists are out of a job. Mission accomplished. Now what?”

In his campaign for prime minister, Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau promised his government would fully legalize and regulate the sale and consumption of recreational cannabis. That pledge went significantly further than NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot. While decriminalization leaves supply to the black market, Trudeau insisted Canada should regulate cannabis in ways similar to how the country handles other controlled substances, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Dan Werb is director of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy and the lead author of an August 2015 report that summarized existing research related to marijuana use and the consequences of proposed regulations. He noted legalizing cannabis can lead to increases of reported use among youth, but emphasized that’s not an inevitable outcome.

“From a public health standpoint, look to the successes we’ve had with tobacco regulation,” he said. “We’ve seen an incremental decrease in the use of tobacco among young people. And I think that is a responsible framework to use.”

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