It was “incredibly irresponsible” of the Trudeau government not to immediately decriminalize cannabis when plans for nationwide recreational legalization were first introduced, according to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
In a new interview with VICE, the recently elected party leader took issue with Justin Trudeau’s approach to cannabis legalization thus far, deeming certain federal decisions downright “offensive.”
“When you talk about legalizing a substance and you don't immediately decriminalize, that is irresponsible. Like, it's incredibly irresponsible,” said Singh, who worked as a lawyer in the criminal justice system for many years.
“The signal's been given that [cannabis] is gonna be legalized but at the same time right now, people are still being arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated, for a substance that's going to be completely legalized in a short period of time.”
Singh, who admitted in the same interview that he has “never drank or smoked”, also called for “automatic pardon[s] for an offence that’s legalized.”
“There also should be a path towards pardons,” he said. “People shouldn't have a criminal record that's going to preclude them from opportunities, like employment, traveling, maybe even in some cases educational opportunities.”
Trudeau has hinted at the possibility of pardoning those with cannabis convictions once recreational legalization is rolled out next July.
“We’ll take steps to look at what we can do for those folks who have criminal records for something that would no longer be criminal,” said Trudeau at a public forum in April, later adding: “we will change the law.”
“We are taking the time necessary to get it right. Then we will move forward in a thoughtful way on fixing past wrongs that happened because of this erroneous law that I didn’t put in place and that I’m working hard to fix.”