Canadian cities trying to license and regulate illegal cannabis dispensaries may be wasting their time. And so might the dispensaries might be wasting their efforts too. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is focused on working out marijuana regulations with the country's provinces.
On June 2, Trudeau sat down with Paul Samyn - editor of The Winnipeg Free Press - to discuss issues facing the nation, including the growth of Canada's "gray market dispensaries" - storefronts selling marijuana illegally in cities across the country. Trudeau said that provinces and cities should continue enforcing the marijuana laws on the books until the government is ready to roll out regulations.
"Until we bring in a legalized regime, the current laws on marijuana apply. And should be applied. The fact that we are going to make changes to remove the money from criminal organizations and protect our kids needs to be done properly and cannot be done randomly or organically - the way people are trying to get it done now."
Unfortunately, he didn't clarify what "random" and "organic" way he was referring to when criticizing attempts to get ahead of the government on regulations. Did he mean organizations like the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) - a group of self-regulating dispensaries? Or was he referring to cities like Vancouver and Victoria, which are combating the spread of these illicit businesses by licensing them?
Either way, dispensaries hoping to stay in business should consider lobbying provincial leaders to speak up on their behalf when discussing regulations with the federal government.
Is Trudeau a teetotaller?
Trudeau, however, was clear about one thing. When marijuana is legal, he won't be smoking it.
"As I've said many times, I am not someone who has a history of using drugs," he said. "I lived in Whistler for a few years, surrounded by friends who did. It was never my thing."
He added that he doesn't have many vices - legal or otherwise.
"I don't drink very much. I don't smoke, never have. I don't even drink coffee because I don't like the jolt that caffeine gives me. And when I told people I don't drink coffee it made far more of an uproar than it did when I told people I once...smoked a joint."
But just as he hopes people respect his java abstinence, he respects those who enjoy a puff now and then. "The fact is it's my choice that I not do that, and we should respect adults' choices - to make their own decisions."
You can watch his full remarks on the issue in this clip.