Justin Trudeau Has Ordered Canada’s Justice Minister to Start the Weed Legalization Process

Yet cops and prosecutors are still going to nail you for lighting up.

by Manisha Krishnan
Nov 16 2015, 5:38pm

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given his first official order starting 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 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 recently 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 offences under the existing laws.

Photo via Flickr user Brett Levin

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