Canada Prime Minster Trudeau Orders Justice Minister to Legalize Cannabis

Published on November 17, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Keeping true to his word, newly ordained and noted cannabis-friendly Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an official mandate to the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, with a complete list of his major priorities for the Canadian government under his reign.

The priorities cover a variety of topics, including physician-assisted death, inquiries into murdered and missing indigenous women, and, la piéce de resistance…

“Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health [to] create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

In addition, the letter includes a memorandum on improving the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, with recommendations for exploring sentencing alternatives and bail reform. Nearly all of the priorities listed were promised as part of the election platform, and it’s a good thing – under the previous administration, mandatory minimum sentences were the norm, and clearly, the time is ripe for change.

Until now, there had not been a formal edict on how to handle marijuana by jurisdiction, despite the campaign promise of legalization under the Liberal Party.

Last week, dispensaries in Nanaimo received a rude awakening in the form of a cease-and-desist letter signed by Sergeant Rob Christenson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The letter threatened legal action if the dispensaries do not cease all activities related to medical marijuana within seven days.

Needless to say, the owners and operators were dumbfounded by the notion that just days after a revolutionary election in which the victors promised legal cannabis at a federal level, they were facing a shutdown.

The order from the office of the Prime Minister ought to shed some light on this issue, and it is now up to the Justice Minister to follow through on Trudeau’s orders. The whole world is watching…

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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