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5 Ways Trudeau Can Start Legalizing Marijuana Right Away

Legalization of cannabis is coming to Canada! Let's make sure we do it right.
People rolling joints on street, close-up of hands
People rolling joints on street, close-up of hands

Canada's incoming prime minister has promised to legalize cannabis. Here are five things Justin Trudeau can do right away to get the process started.

5. Repeal the ban on bongs

Bongs, vaporizers and other cannabis "paraphernalia" are all banned from sale in Canada under Section 462.2 of the Criminal Code. This law also bans books about growing cannabis and any literature that promotes cannabis use.

The bong and growbook ban was passed by the Brian Mulroney government, and thousands of cannabis-friendly shops were raided and shut down. Now the law is an anachronism which is rarely enforced, although we still see two or three head shops getting raided in Canada every year.

It's time this silly ban on bongs and cannabis literature was lifted. Repealing section 462.2 would be a great first step for Trudeau to show good faith and move towards legalization in Canada.

4. Stop possession arrests

Arrests for cannabis possession have been rising in Canada, and are now more than 30 per cent higher than when Conservative PM Stephen Harper first came to power. Trudeau could immediately end all possession arrests by removing simple possession of cannabis under 30 grams from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

This kind of "decriminalization" is not a long-term solution, but it would send a strong signal that Trudeau is serious about taking action on this issue. Immediate decriminalization would also stop people from getting lifelong criminal records and help redirect police resources towards real crime.

3. Allow personal growing

Along with decriminalizing possession, Trudeau should also remove cultivation of five plants from the CDSA. There should be no penalties for anyone growing up to five plants on their own property for themselves or non-commercial sharing.

Allowing immediate cultivation of five plants per person also helps provide a legal source of cannabis while waiting for full legalization to come into place. In the long run, growing cannabis at home should be treated much the same as brewing beer in your basement.

2. Repeal the mandatory minimums

It will take time to figure out the rules for full legalization, and until those rules come into place, trafficking and large-scale cultivation will remain illegal. That is understandable. However, the harsh mandatory minimum sentences put in place by Harper should be repealed immediately.

The Liberals and NDP voted together against these laws on their final vote in Parliament, plus the courts have already ruled that many of these mandatory minimums are unconstitutional. The mandatory minimums relating to cannabis could easily be severed while leaving the rest of the prohibition in place, for the time being.

1. Set a deadline

It's going to take some time to put the rules together for legalization, and many of those rules will need to be set by the provinces and by municipalities. Trudeau should make his intentions clear, and announce that full legalization will be in place within one year.

Any committee formed to hash out the details of legalization should be given six months or less to come up with a set of federal rules and legislation. There is no need for a longer timeframe.

Provinces and cities across Canada should be given a general outline of of federal intentions, and then given one year to prepare for legalization. Each province will need to figure out their own taxation level and many other rules. Cities will have to figure out their zoning and bylaws.

The federal government will need to work with the provinces and cities to create a harmonious national system with some local provincial variations. This process should begin as soon as possible.

Legalization of cannabis is coming to Canada! Let's make sure we do it right.

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