Justin Trudeau Makes The Case For Pot Legalization

By Victoria Kim 06/14/16

During a keynote address in Toronto last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clarified his approach to pot legalization. 

Justin Trudeau Makes The Case For Pot Legalization

Legalizing marijuana is not about creating a lucrative “boutique industry” or generating millions of dollars in tax revenue. It’s about protecting minors from using pot at an early age and disempowering organized crime by creating a legal, regulated pot industry. 

This was Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau’s response to Alan Gertner, CEO of Tokyo Smoke—a Toronto-based cannabis-friendly cafe—who had said that “Canada could be to cannabis as France is to wine” at the Economist magazine’s Canada Summit in Toronto last week (June 8), where Trudeau was a keynote speaker.

Trudeau said he “absolutely disagreed” with Gertner, and delved into the reasons why.

“Look, our approach on legalizing marijuana is not about creating a boutique industry or bringing in tax revenue,” the prime minister said at the conference. This approach is based on two basic principles: “protecting kids and protecting our streets.”

“The fact is [marijuana] is bad for the developing brain and we need to make sure that it’s harder for underage Canadians to access marijuana,” said Trudeau. This could happen under a “controlled and regulated regime” because it’s already easy for kids to obtain marijuana. “Of 29 different countries studied by the UN, Canada was number one in terms of underage access to marijuana.” 

The second principle is to disempower organized crime by taking away the “billions upon billions of dollars flowing” to drug traffickers, street gangs and the like, and to allow that money to flow through a legal, regulated industry. If the “criminal elements” are taken out of the equation, “we will reduce the amount of criminal activity that’s profiting from those, and that has offshoots into so many other criminal activities,” said Trudeau. 

It seems Trudeau, who assumed office in November 2015, will be making good on his campaign promise to legalize and regulate marijuana. In April, Canada’s Health Minister Jane Philpott told the United Nations that the government is preparing federal legislation to legalize marijuana in Canada, which will be ready by spring 2017.

However, Canada’s New Democratic party says the administration hasn’t done enough to “fix marijuana laws in Canada” since Trudeau took office. On Monday, the political party put forward a motion in Parliament to demand the immediate decriminalization of marijuana, saying it is unfair to penalize people for pot when it will soon be legal.

Read Trudeau's full marijuana legalization argument at The Washington Post.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr