Bill Blair launches cross-country cannabis chats

Bill Blair says he wants to talk to you about pot.

The Canadian Department of Justice sent out a press release last week announcing that Toronto’s former top cop and current cannabis czar has started a cross-country tour to discuss legalization and regulation.

Blair will be meeting with “Canadians and various stakeholders on the government’s commitment to legalizing, strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis.”

Where exactly Blair will be conducting these meetings remains unknown. According to David Taylor, the justice minister’s director of communications, Blair will be in somewhere in Western Canada this week, but the itinerary hasn’t yet been finalized or available to the public.

I look forward to meeting with Canadians from across the country to hear their perspectives on regulating access to legal cannabis,” said Blair in the press release. “We know that the current system of prohibition through the criminal justice system is not protecting the health and safety of Canadians, especially our young people. These meetings, along with the work of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation and the online consultations, will help inform the development of legislation to be introduced in Parliament this spring.”

As the former chief of the Toronto Police from 2005 until 2015, he was in charge when an untold number of people were charged with cannabis-related criminal offenses. Blair held several meetings last week in Ontario that, based on his Twitter account, were well-attended by law enforcement officials.

New regulations in Canada generally have to go through public consultations as part of the regulatory process. Making sure citizens have a theoretical say in developing or modifying rules is part of the process of introducing new legislation. The federal Liberal government has promised to introduce legislation by this spring that will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. The government’s focus so far has been on restricting access to people under 19, removing profits from organized crime, and building regulations around how cannabis is grown, produced, and sold.

Blair, the MP for Scarborough Southwest, was named head of the task force last year.