Though he didn’t really say anything new — Trudeau announced as early as January he favoured pot legalization — his seemingly impromptu remarks during a question and answer session quickly went viral.
"I’m actually not in favour of decriminalizing cannabis – I’m in favour of legalizing it," he said. "Tax and regulate. It’s one of the only ways to keep it out of the hands of our kids because the current war on drugs, the current model isn’t working."
Many HuffPost Canada readers were pleased with Trudeau's position, some were less than impressed, but more than a few expressed doubt the Liberal leader would actually do anything about cannabis if the Grits win power in 2015.
"Another Liberal leader, another empty promise on pot," wrote reader ‘maple matters.’ "Half a century of the same sales pitch."
"Just like his opposition to/support for long gun control he says one thing in the west and another in the east!" wrote ‘CCFer.’
But it appears Liberals are serious about making marijuana legalization a priority.
From the petition's website:
Marijuana prohibition is costly and unsafe. That’s why the Liberal Party supports legalizing and regulating marijuana.
Stephen Harper keeps fighting a failed war on drugs that has resulted in more than 475,000 Canadians being arrested on marijuana-related charges.
And while gangsters and thugs get rich dealing marijuana, prohibition has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $500 million (est.) since 2006.
Liberals believe in a smart on crime approach, targeting real criminals instead of ordinary Canadians.
The Conservative government pounced on Trudeau's pot remarks in July, suggesting it is further proof he is, as their ads suggest, in over his head.
"The fact that one of Justin Trudeau's first policy priorities is legalizing marijuana demonstrates once again that he does not have the judgement to be Prime Minister," a party press release reads. "These drugs are illegal because of the harmful effect they have on users and on society. We will continue protecting the interests of families across this country."
To support their argument, the Conservatives cited statements from the Canadian Police Association, a former RCMP commissioner, the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, and a criminologist from the University of the Fraser Valley.
Could this be a legitimate election issue for 2015?
With files from The Canadian Press
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