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5 Things Trudeau’s Cannabis Interview Made Clear

April 25, 2017
(Enrique De La Osa/Pool photo via AP)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down Monday with reporters and staffers from Vice for a live interview about the recently introduced legislation to legalize cannabis. Over the course of an hour, he fielded questions—including from celebrities like Seth Rogan and cannabis activists like Jodie Emery—about what the changes will mean for the country.


Canada to Legalize Marijuana. Here’s What You Need to Know

Here are five key takeaways from the discussion: 

Medical Isn’t Going Anywhere—For Now

Trudeau told the audience that Canada learned a lot from legal-cannabis states in the US, which may be part of the reason he’s pledged to leave the country’s medical cannabis program untouched, at least for the time being. Patients in some US states have seen medical markets dry up as adult-use legalization took over, forcing them to pay more for different products.

Trudeau says that won’t happen—at least not anytime soon. “The medical marijuana system that exists in Canada will stay as-is for the coming years,” he told the Vice audience.


Canadian Companies Add Cannabis Coverage to Health Insurance

Trudeau said he even believes nonmedical legalization could help federal lawmakers to “make better determinations” about how to regulate the medical market. Currently “a lot of people” use the medical system to purchase cannabis for recreational purposes, he said. As those people transition to the adult-use market, it will “radically transform the environment in which the medical marijuana system currently works,” allowing regulators to respond accordingly.

Don’t Expect the Raids to Stop Soon

While nationwide cannabis legalization is only about a year away in Canada, Trudeau insisted on the importance of enforcing current cannabis laws. He shot down ideas like a moratorium on new criminal charges or the possibility of nationwide decriminalization in the interim.


Canadian Dispensaries: Why Vancouver Allows Them but Toronto Doesn’t

“Until we have a system in place that is a better system than our current system, our system has to stand,” he said. “If you decriminalize, the only people who will be growing and selling are going to be criminals themselves.”

Trudeau faced some pushback for staying the course, at least from the Vice audience. A big point of contention was the degree to which a criminal conviction can affect a person’s life for years down the road. A recent Vice poll found that 56% of Canadians support a blanket pardon for past cannabis offenses, and 35% support pardons for possession. Only 9% percent opposed pardons of any kind.


Recipe: How to make basic cannabis-infused butter

Edibles: A Lot to Chew On

Sales of cannabis-infused edibles won’t be permitted in Canada, meaning consumers who want to skip smoking and eat a brownie instead will have to buy cannabis flower or concentrate and make edibles at home. That’s irked some consumers—especially following a Canadian Supreme Court decision saying medical edibles are OK—but Trudeau on Monday stood by the policy.

“We don’t yet have full confidence that we know what a regulated framework around edibles will look like,” he acknowledged, pointing to anecdotes of overconsumption-by-edibles in states like Colorado. “We have to get it right.”


Dosing homemade cannabis edibles: Why it’s nearly impossible to calculate potency

Asked how he expected to make a dent in the illegal market without allowing edibles, Trudeau acknowledged that was a problem for another day. “That next step, we’re going to be working on it,” he said. “It’s in the future.”

Under the Banner of Safety

Nearly all of Trudeau’s talking points on legalization stressed public safety as the legislation’s driving principle. It’s the reason he stood by the edibles ban, the explanation behind continuing to enforce the country’s cannabis laws, and the motivation behind trying to keep the industry in check.

“I’m more of a beer and bourbon guy.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

US states, Trudeau said, have approached cannabis legalization “very much with a commercial mindset and already thinking about profits and revenue,” he said. “We’re approaching it purely from a health and safety standpoint.”

Public safety was Trudeau’s justification for a number of policies, such as the need for strict federal oversight of cannabis production and why it’s important to keep shutting down storefront dispensaries that are operating illegally. It’s also been the official justification for setting the legal age for cannabis at 18 under the new law and for imposing strict limits on advertising.


No Risk Please, We’re Canadian: New Ad Rules May Be a Challenge

Trudeau: Not Exactly a Cannabis Guy

The first question to the prime minister was about the last time he tried cannabis. His response? “My high-school friends, everyone who’s known me a long time, thinks it’s just really, really funny that I’m the one in charge of legalizing marijuana” he said, describing himself as “the boringest.”

“Convincing me to move toward legalization was very much done on a policy basis,” he explained.

In other words, he’s no Barry Obama, whose affinity for cannabis during his college years is widely known. He’s pragmatic, policy-minded, and, well…  not all that interested in consuming cannabis.

“I’m more of a beer and bourbon guy,” he said in response to a question about how he planned to celebrate legalization’s success.


The Rise of Craft Cannabis: Signs of a Maturing Industry

Canadian Craft Cannabis?

Federal officials will oversee cannabis cultivation under the new law. That’s worried some consumers, who fear a small number of large companies could control the entire supply—as so-called “licensed producers” do in the country’s medical market. But Trudeau assured the Vice audience that the adult-use market will offer more choices.

“We are very, very much focused on making sure there’s a market that’s going to meet the needs and interests of consumers,” he said, noting that consumers have already expressed interest in organic or pesticide-free growing methods.

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Leafly Staff

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.

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  • James Tripp

    prime minister promised to use best practices and best science in the
    formulation of his party’s cannabis policy but that is not what is

    Our government is being informed by
    organizations that are pervaded by negative bias against all forms of
    cannabis use and as a result our legislation we will be full of flaws
    based on Gross misconceptions regarding how cannabis affects individual
    human physiology.

    • Josh Schlesinger

      Dear Canada,

      JT’s legalization plan may not be perfect…but be thankful you have an intelligent, compassionate leader who actually tries to do what’s best for his citizens. You could be stuck with an orange-haired bafoon bigot who’s administration is trying to undo all of the progress the US has made over the past 8 years.

      • Tim Patrick

        Lieberal lovers LOL!

        • Hulakai

          leave and go south loser.

          • Tim Patrick

            The truth hurts …. Dum Dum!

        • Evergreen

          I’m not liberal, not ndp, not conservative. I’m common sense and for my family and my medical needs (yes I smoke a shit ton of weed for chronic pain and PTSD) Justin is a much safer bet than Harper was. Liberal hater. Get over it and just make informed choices to help your family and yourself. Your Trump is showing. Better tuck that back in!

        • Robert Brenton

          better than a CONsucker

    • Tim Patrick

      Not my Prime Minister I didn’t vote for this shill ……

      • Luke Wolski

        If you live in Canada he’s your Prime Minister whether you like him or not. Your statement doesn’t make any sense.

        • lovingc

          Try having to claim Trump!

          • Luke Wolski

            If you’re an American, he’s your President. Democratically elected. It’s getting really ridiculous how sensitive people have gotten that other people share different views than them.

          • lovingc

            Trump has been an unmitigated disaster and is getting worse. He has accomplished nothing other than making America the laughing stock of the world.

          • Austin

            NOT democratically elected, but okay. Most of us voted for her.

          • Legalize420

            Trump ain’t my president. I never voted for him. Bernie Sanders is the ONLY person fit to run a country. We gotta orange/white haired retard who didn’t even know what NATO is/was. You do NOT have to recognize him as anything other than 💩 with ears and a mouth. I may be forced by no paper, I mean mean money, and no transportation, but if u think I live my life according to the “laws” and “rules” of the government your hilarious. If you said that 30-40 years ago it might be true but now, I feel sad for your simple thinking. I do nothing in compliance with “regulation” and live my life as low key as possible.

            I DO agree however people are way too sensitive. Now people think “hmm, if I see or hear something I don’t like or agree with, I’m gonna call the pigs or do whatever I can to make them forced out of my precious bubble”. It’s bullshit how much pety whining goes on I do agree. Stay off grid, use encrypted emails, and live ANYWAY u wish. The government is a sepperate entity trying to play sheriff for everyone they don’t think about nor care about . The only thing that matters to them is their paper which somehow has “value” and giving themselves more while others suffer. But it’s not them or their family so do they care? Hell no. Respect for others and privacy has almost been abolished and it sickens me. Cannabis legalization would help so many things, but thinking for yourself, not accepting lies, and being open minded is 100% against the US gov agenda for the sheeple they want. No one around me is as pumped about fighting them as I am.
            Peace, OneLove, and PositiveVibes to anyone and everyone.

            So I agree and disagree. If u want to put something in your body do it, if you don’t, than don’t. Respect others privacy and you’ll get it in return.

            You Canadians are lucky to have a leader that actually cares about public health and safety of the people. Here the only answer is obey or be harassed by cops/go to jail to be removed as if u dont fit into THEIR plans your useless. People need to wake up.

          • lovingc

            He will never be my president he is a clown, and totally incompetent and lazy.

        • Tim Patrick

          Get a life dude!

    • Hulakai

      all you idiots that do nothing but complain despite the incredible progress being made in Canada and the US make me laugh. What on earth are you going to do when you’re no longer able to wear your shades and pretend to be counter-culture? The BEST thing for marijuana legalization is for become part of the economy…when there’s a business case for something, it gets developed and advanced far beyond the underground hacks. Look at the advances being made in Israel.
      stop whining

      • James Tripp

        Given that we have known since 1974 that cannabinoids can kill cancer cells via the cellular mechanisms of a pop ptosis and anti-angiogenesis, why are we still waiting for research and why are we still fighting for access?

      • DCBC

        If it wasn’t for ” underground hacks “, Hulakai cannabis would probably be wiped out and extinct. Furthermore they grow cannabis so much better than what you see in any dispensary. Everyone should have fine cannabis to smoke and you shouldn’t HAVE to BUY it unless you can’t grow it yourself. You should be able to trade it or sell it to an adult friend for a what it’s worth fair price instead of an market value based on Quantity or scarcity.

        • DCBC

          Might i add,controlling people is the farthest thing from peaceful, but helping people could go a long way towards peace. When you control people like this and raise security, we want to break ” The Law ” to find a way around it all the more. I have been smoking cannabis since I was 12 years old, nothing stopped me then, my parents, the police. They just made my life more difficult and made me out to be a criminal for using ONE of the greatest MEDICINES on the planet.

        • Hulakai

          You’re joking right? You DO realize that cannabis has been cultivated and used for THOUSANDS of years? Illegal growers claiming that it would have been wiped out by now if not for them is theoretical at best, self-serving at worst.

          Don’t get me wrong, the term ‘illegal growers’ makes me as uncomfortable as anyone, and the legal/illegal thing is simply a bunch of stuffed shirts telling us what’s good for us, but I just can’t get to a point where I believe an individual growing in a tent, or a corn field, or some other inconspicuous place, can produce a better product than a company with great equipment, who doesn’t have to hide what they are doing, and has no choice but to conform to pharmaceutical standards of cleanliness, testing, processing and labelling. I’ve had lots of great pot from lots of people who grew it themselves, but I can’t tell you exactly when I got from them, not in a single instance, because anyone can say anything about their product and there’s no testing available. Personally, I can’t wait for testing facilities to be open to the public and affordable, so that I can take a sample of my harvest to them to have the THC/CBD levels tested, and DNA confirmation that it really is Green Crack, or Sour Diesel, or Durban Poison, or whatever the seed company told me it was. I think we can all agree that it will be a great day when we have access to that? Until then, anyone claiming that underground growers have a higher quality product is just boosting their own ego and can’t prove it. I’m sure there are hard core dudes growing in highly-controlled environments who have a GREAT product (and LOTS of those guys are being hired by the LPs….you know that right? I’ve seen it first hand), but you simply can’t make a blanket statement that all underground growers have a better product than LPs because you have absolutely no way of proving that, and it defies logic that an individual can produce a better product than a multi-million dollar facility who is regularly inspected by Health Canada and has their product tested regularly.
          So FOR NOW, legalization through the use of tightly controlled environmental, testing and distribution regulations, is a huge step towards EVERYONE having access to good weed, and being able to grow good weed themselves, or have it grown for them, if they choose (which the government has already put in place so NO ONE is being forced to buy LP product). We can’t just jump from illegal/sin/”reefer madness” public mentality to wide open legalization and a free for all. There are decades of propaganda and fear mongering that have to be undone, and if it takes some pharma-like companies to start that ball rolling, I’m all for it because the Supreme Court has already rules that the government will NEVER be allowed to force people to buy from an LP. Granted, that’s currently only for the MM market, but we all know how easy it is to get a prescription and I suspect the non-prescription market (I hate the term ‘recreational’…it does NOTHING to promote the health aspects and many other uses besides simply getting high) will eventually go the same way, just like it’s legal to make your own beer and wine. So don’t tell me the LP products are shite, because that smacks of self indulgence, and I know differently from first hand experience. Most, if not all, the guys I know who bash LP products have never tried them and are constantly bitching about the bottom falling out of the market due to the new ease of access via LPs. That’s why I always suspect sour grapes of lost revenue when someone complains about the quality of the LP product.

          I’m all for less government meddling, but I also have a HUGE appreciation for the progress that has (FINALLY) been made and the level of legal access we now have, without fear of being arrested. Stephen Harper, of all people, already legalized marijuana in Canada with the single caveat that it be used under doctor supervision. He screwed up by trying to remove the right to grow your own, and the courts bitch slapped him for it, but nevertheless, he started this ball rolling. (I can’t believe I’m giving Harper credit for anything)

          What really bugs me lately are all the dispensaries that are trying to jump the gun by opening and operating illegally (including the ones in Vancouver), which just keeps the negative image alive in the media, which will in turn slow progress, and all to make a buck AND provide a marketplace for underground growers who make a tidy sum growing weed. I’ve always considered cannabis supporters to be at LEAST left of centre, if not far left…but money brings out everyone’s true colours, and I don’t believe for a second that dispensary operators are doing it for the love of weed or to help people…they are capitalists pure and simple, who just happen to smoke weed….or not. I’ve known guys who grow and sell but never use it. How are they any less evil than the companies who are growing and selling?

          I’ll say it again…the best and fastest way to full legalization and acceptable is to make cannabis part of the economy. Money talks.

          • DCBC

            what do think i’m stupid of course we’ve been using it for thousands of years! But in about the last 100 between christian,catholic religions, ignorant people and our caring governments yes on a world standing it’s almost been eradicated. If it was some peples choice it would have been is my point. Also i was growing the most beautiful strains 30 years ago that could take 3.5-4 months to flower i havn’t seen anything like them these days. I’m not going to argue with all your long bla bla bla but just going to say that commercial growing is always about producing and money. I can purchase any of what they call top of the line for $15 a gram (more than street value) at our dispensaries and it’s lucky if it’s half as good as what me and my comrads grow Technology can be pretty cool but it can also strip the goodness and individuality out of things..

  • James Tripp

    New legislation could be very very bad for medical cannabis patients who drive.

    • Hulakai

      then don’t @#$% drive when high u moron

      • James Tripp

        Obviously you did not attempt to, or you are incapable of, understanding the information presented in the video.

        The point is that daily medicinal cannabis use does not result in impairment so I do not drive high and if you had actually paid attention to the information you would have realized that.

  • Franklin

    To be fair, we made our own brownies for a few decades. It’s not that much work. Good for a football game or event where smoking isn’t allowed. I would prefer to make my own brownies anyway. Some people don’t want any exposure to butane or other extraction methods that we don’t have a lot of experience with. Humans have been smoking and eating the marijuana plant for 5000 years. I won’t touch a chemical extraction product, but that is a personal choice. Probably safer to allow butter sales than have people making it at home who don’t use the oven a lot.

    The most important thing is that adults will have the right to grow their own plants.

  • Daniel Ortega

    I see his point in keeping medical and recreational separate policy. I the fact he wants Canadians to make their own edibles, I do and save a lot of money doing it. Mexico should follow Canada in making cannabis legal.

  • HughYonn

    Take the government out of the equation. It does not belong.

    • Hulakai

      riiiiiight….because they’re going to cut into your profits. Stfu.

      • Jimmy Dean

        Actually, they help our profits because the people can not get good quality products legally without coming to us. They can grow their own, but not everyone has time, space or ability, and most will not do extractions. However, I completely agree that they have no place here. It is an herb.

  • Robert Wright

    Safety my ass if he’s worried about children’s safety he should ban poinsettias at Christmas time when children are exposed to this poisonous plant there are 12 common plants that are found in people’s flower beds that can kill a child just from one little bite why are those not illegal.
    While the legalisation being offered is far from perfect it’s a start in the right direction the rest will be slowly solved through constitutional challenges might as well accept it, it’s the best we are going to get for now.

  • Robert Brenton

    I oppose legislated Prostitutional Prohibition.

  • Bill

    The callous and brutal exploitation of human lives to feed to the prison legal system must continue regardless of any other factors and in spite of all current awareness of the truth about this beneficial plant…. Sickening stuff.
    And I wouldn’t brag about being “More of a beer and bourbon guy”

  • Mary Lucas

    America has a lot to learn from our northern neighbors. Canada and Israel are pioneering countries in cannabis, I hope America can follow suit very soon!