Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in B.C. last week and sat down for an interview with the editorial board of the Province and Vancouver Sun that was livestreamed on Facebook.
While the first half of the 45-minute Q&A was focused on the recent federal approval for an expanded Kinder Morgan pipeline, Trudeau was then asked by city editor Cassidy Olivier about how he plans to explain the promised legalization of cannabis to his own three children.
“I will speak to my kids the same way I speak about it to the general public. That our decision to legalize – to control and regulate the sale of marijuana – is based on two principles: protecting our kids and keeping our communities safer,” said Trudeau, who has admitted to smoking pot in the past, at roughly the 19-minute mark. “Protecting our kids because, right now under the current prohibition, kids have easy access to marijuana. It’s much easier for a young person to buy a joint than it is for them to buy a bottle of beer because there is a black market for marijuana and there is no black market for beer. Does it mean that kids still access alcohol? Yes, it does. Will controlling and regulating prevent any kids from accessing marijuana? No, it won’t.”
Realizing that he misspoke about how new legislation will not prevent anyone under the recommended age of 18 use cannabis, Trudeau quickly corrected himself.
“Will it prevent every kid from accessing, no it won’t, but it will make it more difficult for young people to get their hands on marijuana by controlling it and regulating it along the same lines as we do alcohol. So I will tell my kids that, look, marijuana has been proven to be bad for the developing brain and that is why we want to keep it out of the hands of kids.”
“The second part of why we are legalizing marijuana is because the black market is now controlled by organized crime, street gangs, gun runners and exactly the kind of people you don’t want to be giving billions of profit to every day, uh, every year. So by controlling it, by regulating it, we are going to make our communities safer and we’re going to make our kids safer. That is why we are legalizing marijuana, and that is also why I am not in favour of full or temporary or interim decriminalization of marijuana. Because it does nothing to remove the black market and it does nothing to protect our kids.”
He declined to answer the question and instead gave a recap of his previous statements.
“Because the current approach to marijuana endangers our kids because they have easy access and gives profits and money to criminal gangs, street gangs, gun runners. The fact is we need to make sure we put a strong legal framework in place so that our kids are protected and so criminals don’t profit from it and until we have that legal framework in place, marijuana remains illegal. The laws in place hold until we change those laws. That is what I’ve said consistently. We are hoping to do it soon but we will do it the right way because protecting our kids, protecting our communities is the reason we are doing this.”
Trudeau said he also met with Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C’s provincial health officer and one of the members of the nine-member task force that recently released its recommendations for how to move forward with the legalization of cannabis, but the two reportedly only discussed the current opioid crisis. More than 750 people have died in the province this year of illicit drug overdoses, many of them linked to fentanyl.