By Ruaidhrí Carroll
The Liberals argue that it is economically and judicially nonsensical to expense taxpayers for trapping Canadians in the criminal justice system on account of minor, non-violent offenses which affect no one but themselves. The Liberals have promised that the new legislation will include stronger laws to “punish more severely” those who provide it to minors, operate a vehicle under its influence and sell the substance on the black market.
A government task force on Cannabis legalization and regulation, comprised of nine experts on public health, substance abuse, law enforcement and justice, was charged with consulting Canadians and advising on how the policy might be implemented. It reported its findings in December 2016, recommending restrictions on the advertising and promotion of cannabis, in addition to the implementation of a minimum age restriction, likely to be 18.
Anne McLellan, chair of the task force, declared that the aim of the recommendations is to regulate the production, manufacture and distribution “to better protect health and to enhance public safety.” Included in the proposals, the task force recommends educating Canadians about the new system and the risks of cannabis, such as impaired driving.
Canada’s lucrative illicit marijuana market includes over half of the 657 known organized crime groups currently operating in Canada, the Canadian government claims. It is currently too early to speculate on the potential tax revenues of legalization. However, displacing the black market trade, which the task force estimates to equate to an annual C$7 billion (US$5,208,500,946) and bringing it into the legal, taxable economy is a central aim of the government’s policy.
With this legislation, Canada will join Amsterdam in the Netherlands and eight states in the USA, where marijuana has already been legalized for recreational purposes.