Former Toronto Police Chief to Lead Canada’s Cannabis Legalization

According to CBC sources, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair will be leading the Liberal government’s promise to legalize cannabis.

Now an MP for Scarborough Southwest after the latest federal election, Blair was named parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould last month. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier delegated Wilson-Raybould the responsibility of the creation of “a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

Blair will help facilitate that process, although the specifics are still unknown.

“There’s a great deal of work to do,” Blair told the Sun. “This will be a highly consultative process.”

“If our intention is to manage the risks, keep it out of the hands of our kids, and get organized crime out of it … then we need to regulate it,” Blair said. “Clearly, criminal sanction is not keeping it out of the hands of kids.”

Mayor John Tory said Blair was the “ideal person” to oversee the process of recreational cannabis regulation.

“It’s a very complicated matter,” said Tory. “Exactly how do you change the law? How do you distribute marijuana? You know making sure that safety is kept at the forefront.”

During the election, Blair said he had seen how the criminalization of cannabis hadn’t worked while he served as a police officer.

“I have seen merely criminalizing marijuana hasn’t been successful in keeping it out of the hands of kids, it hasn’t kept organized crime out of the business,” Blair said, in April. “I think we can do better, through legalization and regulation, coupled with a strong public health response.”

In 2014, Canada’s largest mental health and addiction research centre released a paper calling for the legalization of cannabis, a report Blair responded to with favour.

“I am very encouraged by the public health approach advocated by CAMH and by recognition that the regulation of Cannabis also has value in public policy. I think it is an important discussion,” he said at the time.