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Canada’s Prime Minister Issued an Order to Start the Legalization of Pot

But cops and prosecutors are still nailing Canucks for lighting up.

Photo via Flickr user Brett Levin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given his first official order to start the process towards legalizing weed.

In a public mandate letter issued to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould Friday, Trudeau listed the government's top priorities, including working with the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health ministers to "create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana."


The letter also calls for a review of sentencing reforms with the goal of reducing incarceration rates amongst Indigenous Canadians. Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, including growing marijuana—a policy that has been widely criticized as "cruel and unusual."

In the absence of an official cannabis policy change, police forces across the country are using their discretion when deciding whether or not to enforce current drug laws.

Nanaimo, BC Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) recently ordered several medical marijuana dispensaries in the city to shut down or potentially face criminal prosecution. A compassion club in Saskatoon, where a police officer told VICE he would "charge on a leftover roach" if possible, was also raided.

In Vancouver, cops generally don't lay charges for simple possession, but the city's 100 or so pot dispensaries, which operate in a grey market, are being cracked down on through new municipal regulations.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada told VICE that it will continue to prosecute drug offenses under the existing laws.

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