On Monday in Canada, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party won a landslide election. Trudeau, Canada’s new prime minister, ran on a platform of sensible progress and meaningful change. One pillar of the campaign was the responsible legalization of recreational cannabis. Trudeau’s win brought with it a wave of interest in the Canadian cannabis industry.
While running for prime minister, Trudeau made it clear that his intention is to legalize recreational cannabis in a similar way to the handful of American states that have implemented such programs. As with most legalization efforts, the implicit goals are to reduce youth exposure and criminalization, improve product safety, and increase tax revenue.
“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.
Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.
To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.
We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.”
-Canadian Liberal Party Marijuana Perspective from Liberal.ca
If Trudeau is able to successfully enact cannabis legalization, Canada would become the second country in the world to make that push. Uruguay passed legalization in 2013, but ongoing implementation has resulted in the government simply not enforcing personal use and possession penalties.
Trudeau has promised to legalize cannabis “the right way,” and it seems his administration will model new laws off of those being proposed in the United States. Staples in the proposed program include reducing law enforcement costs, increasing tax revenue for regulatory programs, and developing youth prevention education resources.
There is no timeline for cannabis legalization, nor has a solidified tax structure been established. Still, Trudeau as the prime minister does seem promising for the cannabis industry. Stocks in Canadian cannabis companies spiked after the Liberal Party win, with brands both large and small posting major share growth.
Cannabis legalization in Canada is going to be a long process, but it also could be a major influence on the United States government that has been stubbornly opposed to cannabis for decades. Canada is intertwined with the American economy, as both our neighbor and close political ally.