Justin Trudeau Picks Up Where Another Liberal Prime Minister Left Off

The main event in Canadian politics this week is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first throne speech, a formal address to Parliament that outlines the government's agenda. Friday's speech could be the first in Canadian history to address the legalization of marijuana, which Trudeau included as part of his government's mandate.

But it wouldn't be the first time cannabis was identified as a priority in a speech from the throne. That happened back in 2002 when the government of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien opened up parliament with the promise to consider decriminalization.

When discussing reforms to keep cities healthy, the government said it would:

implement a national drug strategy to address addiction while promoting public safety. It will expand the number of drug treatment courts. It will act on the results of parliamentary consultations with Canadians on options for change in our drug laws, including the possibility of the decriminalization of marijuana possession.

The government came very close to getting that done, but the decriminalization bill died before getting a final vote. Paul Martin, Chrétien's successor, tried to revive the issue, but it died again when his government fell and was replaced by Stephen Harper's Conservative regime, which adamantly opposed reforming Canada's cannabis laws.

So Friday could be the starting point for Parliament's first progressive discussion of cannabis in more than a decade.


Most people know that to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car is very dangerous — not just for the driver and passengers, but for anyone else sharing the road. For cannabis consumers, however, understanding levels of impairment is not so straightforward. To date, there is not yet a technology used by law enforcement that can accurately detect cannabis impairment similar to alcohol breathalyzers.

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