Next year Canada could become the first country in the G7 group of the world’s leading economies to legalize marijuana as the government announces its plans in a speech to parliament.
The freshly-elected Liberal government has reaffirmed their pledge to legalize marijuana as Governor-General David Johnson addressed the parliament with a speech that outlined the legislative agenda for the coming year.
“The Government will introduce legislation that… will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana,” Johnson said, Canadian Global News reports. He did not elaborate on how the government plans to regulate or restrict access to the soft drug.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to the Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also includes a provision suggesting that the justice minister should work “with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
Trudeau said that legalizing marijuana would fix a “failed system” and help remove the “criminal element” from marijuana production and trade, adding that Canadians would benefit from studying the experience of the US state of Colorado and Washington, which recently adopted similar laws.
The PM has stuck to that position since becoming the leader of the Liberal party in 2013. He says his support for the legalization of marijuana is influenced by the fate of his late brother, who was charged with drug possession for having “a tiny amount” of weed before his death in an avalanche in 1998.
Legalizing pot was a high profile election promise made by Trudeau during the latest election campaign that raised the Liberal Party to power after almost a decade of the Conservative rule. Two previous Conservative administrations also made such election promises but failed to live up to them.
In Canada, people are allowed to use medical marijuana in dried and edible forms on condition they do not smoke it. Growing marijuana at home is also legal, according to Global News.
Apart from legalizing marijuana, the new government also plans to cut taxes for citizens with middle income as well as to provide higher child benefits to the needy, which would be financed by a tax increase on the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.
The government also announced plans to provide significant investments in infrastructure, cut military spending, limit the budget deficit to 10 billion Canadian dollars ($7.5 billion) per year as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.