Health Minister Jane Philpott announced in an address to the U.N. today that a bill to legalize marijuana in Canada will be introduced to parliament as soon as spring of 2017.
“Our approach to drugs must be comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate,” Philpott said in her speech Wednesday morning. “It must promote human rights while promoting shared responsibility, and it must have a firm scientific foundation.”
“In Canada, we will apply these principles with regards to marijuana. To that end, we will be introducing legislation in the spring of 2017 that ensures that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals.”
Philpott adds that while marijuana legalization is a hot-button issue in many countries, she believes it’s the right course of action for Canada.
“Canada will continue to modernize our approach to drug policy. Our work will embrace upstream prevention, compassionate treatment and harm reduction,” she said.
However, marijuana legalization activist Jodie Emery believes next year is too long to wait.
“I’m happy that the Liberal government has felt the pressure for introducing legalization, but one year is a long time to keep arresting people, to keep spending money on prohibition enforcement, and I hope that they’ll issue a moratorium on marijuana arrests and post possession while they take the time to figure out the rest of the details,” she tells Vancity Buzz.
“Ideally, the health minister will just remove cannabis from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and allow the provinces to deal with it medically and recreationally as they see fit.”
She adds she’s still waiting to see whether the Liberals will legalize marijuana the way she and other activists see fit.
The announcement from the Ministry of Health follows a new Angus Reid survey that suggests a majority of Canadians – nearly 70%, in fact – support the legalization of marijuana, but many don’t see it as a national priority.