In today's Throne Speech, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government committed to legalize cannabis and create a regulated market.
The throne speech is a formal address to parliament that outlines the government's agenda for the legislative session.
The promise to legalize cannabis was framed as part of the government's commitment to keeping Canadians safe while respecting their fundamental rights and freedoms:
Recognizing that Canada is fundamentally a safe and peaceful country, the government will continue to work to keep all Canadians safe while at the same time protecting our cherished rights and freedoms. To that end, the government will introduce legislation that will provide greater support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault; that will get handguns and assault weapons off our streets; and that will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.
Legalization advocates may have hoped for more specific commitments at this stage. But we do have a clear idea of how the process will begin and who's handling it.
On Nov. 19, Trudeau sent Justice Minister Jody Raybould-Wilson a mandate letter calling on her to work with "the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health" to "create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana."
The ministers will create a task force to consult with legal experts, public safety officials and scientists to help develop regulations for Canada's provinces and territories.
Since then, Health Minister Jane Philpott has indicated that the task force will study the best practices in other markets (such as legal states like Colorado), but Canada's regulatory system will be distinct because there is no perfect model to follow.
And most importantly, today's throne speech means that the government is taking legalization seriously. There may not be a clear schedule for when the new laws will arrive, but the end of prohibition is on the horizon.
More to come.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, wait for the arrival of the Governor General David Johnston for the speech from the throne in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
Banner Image: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a thumbs-up before the Speech from the Throne in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)