Justin Trudeau slammed Stephen Harper Wednesday for what he said is the prime minister's "nanny state" stance on marijuana.
Speaking at the University of Manitoba, Trudeau was asked by pot activist Steven Stairs what he thinks about the government's new medical marijuana regulations.
"The current hyper-controlled approach around medical marijuana that actually removes from individuals the capacity to grow their own is not going in the right direction, in either respect to freedom or the kind of care that people need," the Liberal leader said to applause.
Trudeau also reiterated his main talking points regarding his plan to legalize marijuana, mainly that the current legal state of affairs actually makes it easier for young people to get hold of the drug and that a system like that in place for alcohol would work better to curb consumption. Trudeau also stressed that his plan would hurt organized crime.
"This is the kind of approach we need to take: one grounded in evidence, one grounded in science, one grounded in liberty and the freedom of people to make choices, but at the same time does a better job of protecting the developing brains of our young people," Trudeau said. "But we don't need to be all nanny state about it the way Stephen Harper is with his prohibition."
The debate over marijuana since Trudeau announced both his support for legalization and that he smoked pot since becoming an MP has largely centred around use of the drug among youth.
And that may be exactly what Harper's Conservatives want. The Tories have consistently attacked Trudeau's legalization plan, one which they say will make marijuana more accessible to children. The wife of a staffer in the office of former Public Safety minister Vic Toews recently confronted Trudeau with similar arguments during a recent campaign stop in Manitoba.
Those attacks have come as the government has overseen a major transition in the rules around production of medical marijuana. The new regulations ban individual and small scale growers, with licenses now only available for industrial scale production.
Revenues for the burgeoning new industry are expected to hit $1.3 billion per year by 2024, according to federal projections.
The Tory arguments against Trudeau's pot plan don't seem to be working, or at least not yet. A recent Abacus Data poll found 63 per cent of Canadians support some form of reform regarding marijuana laws and roughly two-thirds of those who knew about Trudeau's pot admission said they did not care.
With files from The Canadian Press