A man who spent most of his life as a cop is now officially in charge of cannabis legalization in Canada.
Bill Blair, who served as Toronto police chief for 10 years, and was a police officer for decades before that, (even his dad was a cop), has been named Minister for the purposes of the Cannabis Act. As first reported by Leaf News, the move was announced in a Privy Council Order that states Blair’s new powers will be in addition to his role as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.
The former undercover drug cop has been the face of the Liberal government’s legalization rollout for years, so this designation hardly comes as a surprise. He was previously Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. Despite his background as a cop, Blair has said that he believes pot possession convictions are a disproportionate punishment. The federal government recently announced plans to expedite the pardons process, but not to expunge criminal records.
The Cannabis Act comes with some very harsh penalties including up to 14 years of jail time for people who sell weed illegally or to minors. In addition to that, Canadians are already being punished at the border for being associated with weed. Recently, the Financial Post revealed a cannabis investor was issued a lifetime ban from the US after border officials learned he was attending a cannabis conference in Las Vegas.
Blair has previously stated that he doesn’t expect much to change at the borders post-legalization and told Canadians not to show up at the border looking like Cheech and Chong. Maybe with his new resources he can come with some better advice.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.
Sign up for the VICE Canada Newsletter to get the best of VICE Canada delivered to your inbox.