During a press conference on Jan. 13, 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed two main reasons why Canada is pursuing recreational marijuana legalization: to protect minors from accessing marijuana and to squelch the black market’s marijuana revenue.
“First of all, right now, it is far too easy for underage Canadians to access marijuana. The current system does not protect our young people from easy access to marijuana and that’s what we’re hoping to regulate and control,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau is also looking at legalization as a means of blocking the growth of Canada’s black market.
“Criminal organizations and street gangs are making millions upon millions of dollars in profits from the sale of marijuana … . We want to remove the source of revenue from criminal organizations,” Trudeau said.
Ultimately, both of Trudeau’s reasons for legalizing recreational marijuana play into each other. Trudeau explained, “We want to protect our young people and we will have to work with municipalities, and specifically provinces, around ensuring that the regime which controls and regulates marijuana is actually achieving those goals of protecting Canadians and protecting their communities.”
Since being elected Prime Minister of Canada on Oct. 19, 2015, Trudeau’s pro-legalization stance has continued to make headlines. A major development occurred on Nov. 13, 2015, when Trudeau issued mandate letters to his cabinet members, instructing them on specific details regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana.
At the press conference on Jan. 13, a reporter asked Trudeau about the timeline for implementing recreational legalization, and Trudeau replied, “We’re working on this in a responsible way and we’re going to get it done as quickly as is responsible.”
Currently, it seems that international treaties may play a role in Canada’s legalization timeline. According to The Canadian Press, Canada is bound to three international treaties that criminalize marijuana cultivation and possession, meaning Canada would have to revise its participation in the aforementioned treaties or prove that legalization would reduce the use of illicit drugs among Canadians.