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Trudeau Gives Justice Minister Mandate To Legalize Cannabis

Canada is officially on the road to legalization. In a letter outlining her responsibilities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has instructed Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to begin the process of legalizing and regulating cannabis in Canada.

The letter to Wilson-Raybould (pictured above with Trudeau) reads, "I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities."

The subsequent bulleted list of objectives includes, "Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana."

That means Minister Wilson-Raybould will team up with Ralph Goodale (Public Safety) and Jane Philpott (Health) to get the job done.

Wilson-Raybould is a former prosecutor, regional chief

The new Justice Minister's background includes working as a prosecutor, a British Columbia Treaty commissioner and a regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

During the recent campaign, she was endorsed by Sensible BC, a pro-legalization group that singled out Wilson-Raybould as a candidate who could help defeat Conservative politicians who opposed legalization.

"Our goal is to elect the most cannabis-friendly candidates who have the best chance of beating the Conservatives," said Sensible BC director Dana Larsen.

We couldn't find any record of Wilson-Raybould's views on cannabis reform, so it may have just been a general endorsement of the party's position. But there's no doubt Larsen and other activists will be expecting much of the minister tasked with overhauling Canada's cannabis laws.

Wilson-Raybould is from the B.C. riding, Vancouver-Granville, which may have influenced Trudeau's selection process because the province is the leader on cannabis reforms nationwide.

Dr. Philpott is a doctor, outspoken advocate for legalization

The new Health Minister is a family doctor in Markham, Ontario, teaches at the University of Toronto, and leads numerous community health initiatives. She also practiced medicine in Niger for a decade, and helped set up training program for village health workers.

During the recent election campaign, she became an outspoken proponent of the Liberal Party's plan to legalize cannabis. She used her Twitter account to rebut statements by former Toronto police chief and Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino: "Fantino completely distorts LPC approach. In fact, regulation will make marijuana less accessible to minors," she posted in mid-August.

Ralph Goodale is a veteran Liberal cabinet minister

The new Public Safety minister was first elected to Parliament more than 40 years ago. He has served in many different cabinet roles under former Liberal prime ministers, including Natural Resources, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Public Works and Government Services, and Minister of Finance.

In response to a New York Times editorial last year, Goodale praised the paper for making a reasoned case for legalization.

"It's one more serious comment with a lot of intellectual heft behind it that makes the point that the current regime of absolute prohibition doesn't work," said Goodale. "All of the profit is ending up in the hands of gangs and society is no healthier and no safer. So surely there is room for intelligent discussion about how to do it better."

h/t New York Times, Ottawa Citizen, The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Courier.


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