What Justin Trudeau’s Win Means for Marijuana Legalization

legalization_pollLiberal Party candidate Justin Trudeau has defeated incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper to become Canada’s next Prime Minister. Trudeau’s win is expected to usher in a new wave of political priorities, with marijuana legalization nearing the top of the list.

From the Liberal Party’s website:

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.

In his quest to become Prime Minister, Trudeau actively campaigned on a platform that included taxing and regulating marijuana.

“What is very clear right now is that Mr. Harper’s current approach is making marijuana too easy to access for our kids, and at the same time funding street crime, organized gangs and gun runners,” Trudeau said.

The Liberal leader also said he would “work with the provinces to makes sure that the control and regulation of marijuana is done in a way that is responsible.” And he repeatedly stated, “”My focus is on making it more difficult for young people to access it.”

While a concrete timeline has not been provided as to when Canadians can expect a legal and regulated marijuana market, Trudeau has promised to get to work on the changes “right away”.

For more information please contact our NORML Canada chapter, here.

30 thoughts

  1. Excellent.

    How is this transition of power,
    (which is seemingly, at least, partially due to their concepts re: cannabis),
    likely to be perceived by the candidates here in the States?

    Will our candidates see and respond to this?

  2. OMG!!! We can only pray and hope that our next president has enough compassion and intelligence as Canada’s new leader. Of course, that is what most of us thought when we cast our votes for Mr. Obama… Wow, did he ever flip flop once in office… I often wonder if Prohibitionist Extrema Joe Biden had anything to do with that.

  3. This is amazing news! I wasn’t even paying attention to what was happening north of our border. Canada has my full attention now. Amsterdam, hell, I’m already saving for my first trip to Montreal or Toronto or Vancouver!

    Hooray for Canada!!!

  4. This is quite possibly the best news I’ve ever heard in global criminal justice reform.

    I sincerely hope Mr. Trudeau has already amassed a task force that is competent and will approach this issue with utmost care.

    The phrase “socially disruptive” used to describe the consequences of arresting good people for cannabis is absolutely on point.

    The world is watching, Canada. Make us proud.

    I’ve experienced two decades (half my life) of discrimination due to using cannabis to alleviate child-onset glaucoma… even though I live in California. I know that the only solution that will reduce the discrimination against people like me is full legalization.


  5. “these offenses” Using marijuana is not an offense! Christ, even people making it legal sound like bigots.

    Then there is this little nugget of bullshit: “create new, stronger laws to punish more severely who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence.” Why??? Are stoned drivers causing problems or is this just more bigotry???

  6. At least one college professor claims that this is merely an endorsement of fiscally liberal policies: the entire legalization factor still gets overlooked, in eggheads’ ivory towers…

  7. This is great news because it signals that the world is following the American lead in marijuana legalization. We can thank California for demonstrating that marijuana does, in fact, have medicinal qualities and then Colorado for having the guts to buck the trend and go legal in spite of federal threats. I live in a red state which will probably be the last to get on board (Tx) and at my age, I’ll probably never see the end of the war on weed here, but it feels good knowing that someday, people won’t have to fear the police knocking their door off of the hinges and shooting their beloved pets and family members or spending the rest of their life in prison over weed.

  8. “What is very clear right now is that Mr. Harper’s current approach is making marijuana too easy to access for our kids, and at the same time funding street crime, organized gangs and gun runners,” Trudeau said.


  9. Atleast Canada can get a man who actually supports legalization rather than one who just pretends to in order to be cool (Obama).

    [Editor’s note: Whether to be cool or not, analytically, there is no precedent to date in the US of a sitting president who has done more to lessen the harms associated with cannabis prohibition than Obama. The current president might not be a legalizer, but if you cultivate, sell or consume cannabis in the US, one has to be glad that Obama prevailed in his two elections as neither McCain or Romney would have been as tolerant and permissive as the Obama administration has been on cannabis policy.

    Hopefully, the next president will expand on the current reforms.]

  10. THANK YOU CANADA! It’s just unfortunate that this didn’t happen in 2002 when the Canadian Senate report–perhaps the most thorough and balanced studies of cannabis ever done–unequivocally called for full legalization. Maybe common sense will eventually prevail here in the uS.

  11. Well, much better news for ‘global criminal justice reform’ is specified on the top of drugpolicy.org – Sir Richard Branson uncovered a UN Statement calling for global drug decrim – and it was to have been released Friday, but someone in the US demanded it get stifled… We certainly should use all of our Representatives to find out who did that!

  12. “Don’t pull a ‘Nancy Pelosi’!” Urge Canadians to keep his feet to the fire and get this done as first priority! Take a lesson from what happened when Pelosi squandered Speakership! (That’s also partly our fault, NORML!) We won’t get fooled again!

  13. this is great news i just wish america was as free as the canadians are going to be its a shame that in america the politicians ignore the will of the people and do what big money tells them to do

  14. Well Way to go Canada!!!!
    I hope this helps our Government to rethink the laws here. It is time for a law change, as I am no criminal. Nor are many others who like to partake in a little cannabis.

    No I am not high now, I am just saying. If I had weed, I shouldn’t be treated as some criminal.

  15. Well, whatever else he does when Canada legalizes I’d like to see Marc Emery’s and all other cannabis crimes stricken from people’s records, expunged, removed, never to be reported again.

    In fact, I hope Trudeau’s government will not cooperate with U.S. prohibitionist authorities and shut down seed stores that ship to the U.S. They shut down Emery. They shut down Heaven’s Stairway. I mean, shit. It’s legal in parts of the U.S. already, that is except for retail recreational sale. Somebody has seeds. WTF! For hemp seed, too! Feds allowing legal adult retail seed sales has GOT to be the next huge nail in the coffin of cannabis prohibition.

    Legal seeds! Shit yeah!

  16. Just a day or two after the Trudeau victory the US Vice President with notoriously negatistic views on cannabis gave up on running for the Presidency (admittedly citing other reasons)– that should say something.

    As for the tough talk on new stronger laws to severely punish etc., that may show a need to cater to prevailing voter attitudes. Or consider this: like the US, Canada collects a ton of niggotine $igarette TAX MONEY to keep liberal policies financed, and if CHILDREN get educated about cannabis it means a swift end to $igarette marketing as we have known it. Uh oh, 25-mg DIY flexdrawtube one-hitters everywhere.

  17. How long do you think it will take for the Canadian marijuana legislation to change under its new Liberal party rule? I’ve already heard of at least two ‘grey area’ vendors online that ship it sealed. I can’t wait to see the future of cannabis commerce!

  18. I heard the story on NPR as they discussed every other teason but marijuana that could have influenced the election. Sometimes theres a green elephant in the room, smelling profoundly like several tons of weed, and only cannabist non for profits like MPP or NORML covers the real story. “Oh, well maybe they voted because Canadians are becoming more liberal?” Its like listening to cryogenically frozen journalists speak from the twighlight zone. Hey, popular media (and NPR)… maybe Trudeau COULD be winning off his platform to legalize pot? I don’t know, sometimes I get carried away with my IDEAS!…

    Another thing to look at on the 28th Mexico’s Supreme Court decides whether marijuana prohibition is legal.

    Legalization; Pass it don’t harrass it!

  19. This is great! As a Canadian, I hope this leads to a new wave of American Politicans who are willing to take legalization to every state!

  20. I live in Canada and think that the remarkable thing is what a non-issue cannabis was in the election, relatively. It was discussed in balance to all the other issues for sure. And you had the typical rather-ridiculous Reefer Madness-talk coming from the conservative party. But they did get called out a few times on it and could cite no valid evidence to support their positions, and ended up looking foolish and out-of-touch with reality when all was said and done.

    Other than the obvious overarching changing social attitudes being interesting, I think the lesson is: discuss facts and hard data points often and repeatedly, particularly in how MJ policy relates to things like criminal justice costs and outcomes, or tax revenues, or how real addiction needs to be treated as a medical rather than a criminal issue. Call foolish lies out for what they are. And I believe if you do that enough, people who are at all open-minded will see the foolishness of the prohibition position and will come on-side whether or not they themselves enjoy MJ.

    It didn’t hurt at all that there IS positive data coming back from places like Colorado. That worked in our favour this election. But you all know that repealing prohibition works. That’s why you’re here!

    I’d say keep up the good fight. It’s working. Now it’s time to lather, rinse, and repeat in the US.

    The only caveat is that post-election there’s already been some worrying from various corners re legalization. It’ll be interesting to see if a backlash is yet to come. Some folks here are doing the same trying to stop a reasonable 21st century sex ed curriculum in Ontario, but most Canadians just look at them as an anachronistic oddity and are supportive of progress. Judging by the first 3 days, PM Trudeau seems pretty intent on following through with all his electoral promises. And he has a majority government, which for those of you who don’t know our parliamentary system, means he has no legislative opposition to executing his policies and a full 4 years to do so. PM Harper had the same with his last majority, which was why the last 4 years were brutal. But this time, it will work in our favour and I believe and hope he will do it. Now, my real hope is he does so in time for next year’s outdoor growing season, because I sure would like to grow my own beautiful organic sun-kissed ladies!

  21. @ Matthew

    You said, “Don’t pull a ‘Nancy Pelosi’!” Urge Canadians to keep his feet to the fire and get this done as first priority! Take a lesson from what happened when Pelosi squandered Speakership! (That’s also partly our fault, NORML!) We won’t get fooled again!”

    To what exactly are you referring in regard to Pelosi? Last I remember, she supported the legalization in Colo and Wash several years ago. Would you prefer the Republican stance on legalization? Nobody had to hold Christie’s feet to the fire when he said he’d kill recreational legalization.

    Or, to put it another way, what did she not do, as Speaker of the House, regarding recreational MJ, that Boehner has done during his tenure as Speaker? (Tho, of course, as you know, he is not long for his own “ivory tower.”)

  22. @ Toronto Drummer,

    Thanks for great insights about the situation in Canada. Like most Americans, I suspect, my knowledge of other countries’ political systems is woefully lacking.

    I too hope Trudeau acts promptly on this issue.

  23. It’s coming. It won’t truly be legal until you can imbibe while standing in your yard…tending your garden…but, it’s coming. I’m thinking Obama changes the scheduling before leaving office. It looks like Hillary is stepping closer to the job and I don’t have any confidence that she would advance the cause, certainly, Trump or Bush wouldn’t, so that leaves it up to Barry. He has plenty of time left. I expect his parting act will be to change the scheduling and to release lots of low level offenders on his way out the door. We’re counting on you buddy. We stuck by you into a second term. Now, it’s time to pony up.

  24. Now that legalization is making progress, I guess we can all expect to see a ton of prohibitionist propaganda. Some really believe that weed is bad, but most of it is coming from those who found a way to get rich off of the drug war and they won’t go quietly. We need to bat the lies down as they are printed. Flood those web stories with the truth and make sure people don’t believe those lies.

  25. @dk: “We need to bat the lies down as they are printed.”

    It always reminds me of how a battleship releases depth charges, to prevent enemies’ advance; We do have to respond to their lies, but I like to start the debate with a different premise: America was founded with what FDR forced everyone to call, “marihuana” – and this is about the difference between what they ‘can’ and ‘may not’ do, to exert the whole of prohibition… As all old school Libertarians have always agreed – as much as this is a Drug War, they should be tried, as War Criminals, for it.

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