Bill Blair is the man who Trudeau appointed to head up the federal legalization efforts, and he says that no time frame has been set for officially legalizing cannabis, but until then the laws will remain on the books and will be enforced. This is what he told a group of Senate Liberals at a recent public policy forum.
“Until Parliament has enacted legislation, and new rules are in place to ensure that marijuana is carefully regulated, the current laws remain in force and should be obeyed,” Blair said.
He explained the reasoning behind legalization, confirming that the major focus was on restricting access to children. He did say however, that the high number of Canadians still being charged for possession was “shocking”, pointing out that there were over 22,000 charges in 2014 for cannabis. This still doesn’t change the government’s stance on enforcing cannabis laws for the time being.
He went on to say that “What we’re hearing from Canadians is that they want it done expeditiously, but they want it done right.” He also noted that he couldn’t say for sure how long this would take.
Blair also addressed the public health issues, “The government believes that the time has come to enact a system of strict regulations to replace the criminal sanctions. That is the best hope we have for protecting our children, making our communities safer and facilitating the lawful, safe use of this drug, which is not a benign drug. It has some risks for some users,” he said.
Activist Jodie Emery and NDP Leader Tom Muclair both expressed concern over the current laws still being enforced, and the need for legalization to be made official quickly. Emery says that, “We need a moratorium on arrests and we need amnesty for two million Canadians since 1965 who have had criminal records.”
Muclair says that “I think that we owe it to ourselves to be clear on this, to make sure nobody ever again in Canada gets a criminal record for simple possession of marijuana for personal use.”
Many activists and patients were thrilled with yesterday’s anticipated decision of the Allard case, but there is still the issue of uncertainty that looms while the government figures out the best way to implement legalization. The police are even finding that many people are confused on the law and think that it is currently legal. We will be closely following the situation and updating readers along the way.