Monday, October 19th, marked parliamentary election day in Canada, the results of which look to have a long-standing impact on the cannabis industry, not only in Canada but across the globe as Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, has been elected into office. Trudeau has long promised to legalize adult-use cannabis throughout the entire country and, if successful, Canada’s legalization would mark the first North American country to legalize across the board and the largest legalized landmass in the world.
The election of Trudeau, in combination with the Liberal party’s 184 elected seats in the house represents the first non-conservative majority in Canadian government since the conservative party took over in 2006. Once the win was finalized, Trudeau addressed supporters and shared credit for the election win.
“This is what positive politics can do…I didn’t make history tonight, you did.” – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
CBCNews – Newly Elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Talks Future Cannabis Strategy
Trudeau’s victory also signifies a change in Canada’s political culture. The previous conservative party was noted for their divisive and fearful tactics whereas the Trudeau-led Liberal party gained support with their positive message and inclusionary style.
“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together. Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less, and that better isn’t possible. My friends, this is Canada, where better is always possible.” – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
What This Means For The Cannabis Industry
Justin Trudeau ‘came out’ of the cannabis closet as an official supporter two years ago, even mentioning his own personal use back in 2010. While this admission and support of legalization would have likely been a death sentence for his campaign here if it was here in America (no U.S. President has ever admitted use and been pro-legalization), Canadian voters indicated, through their voting, that the country is ready for drug reform and previous cannabis prohibition policies are no longer acceptable. In fact, the Toronto Star, one of the most popular publications in Canada, aggressively voiced their support of Trudeau and his legalization plans;
‘The Liberal party under Justin Trudeau has crafted an alternative vision for the country that deserves the support of those who believe Canada can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful.’ – Toronto Star
In an earlier interview with Vice, Trudeau is quoted as saying cannabis prohibition has resulted in 475,000 people with criminal records since the Conservatives came into power in 2006, and criminalization of the drug costs the justice system $500 million a year.
In that same interview, Trudeau announced that cannabis legalization would officially be added to his party’s platform and that, if elected, a system of legalization, regulation and distribution would be put in place. As previously stated, Canada’s legalization would represent the largest shift in cannabis politics since initial prohibition began nearly a decade ago.
According to the Canadian Liberal Party’s website, Trudeau’s plan is to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis as soon as possible. It is interesting to note, however, that the issue of cannabis legislation is the 93rd of 106 topics listed on the party’s platform. Only time will tell if that indicates the priority level of cannabis legalization. It could also be due to the fact that the issue of cannabis was only recently added to the party’s platform. The following information is the action plan as listed on the Liberal Party’s official web page:
Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.
Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, nonviolent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.
To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.
We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.
CBCNews Shares Canadian Public Opinion on Trudeau’s Cannabis History
Parallels to American Cannabis Policy
Just like the future of cannabis legalization in America depends on the 2016 Presidential election, the evolution of Canadian legalization policy was dependent on which party won this 2015 election. The conservative party, which had been in power since 2006, was and still is staunchly opposed to cannabis legalization and would have certainly continued to squash any rumors of an upcoming reform.
Conversely, the Liberal party announced their intentions to move forward with progressive drug control policies that will, if nothing else, provide a roadmap for which other countries across the globe can learn from, much the same as how Colorado has become the petri dish for state cannabis policy.
While few inside the cannabis industry would argue the importance of Trudeau being elected as Canadian Prime Minister, the opposition to the Liberal party continues to represent the disparity between older, more conservative government bodies and the new wave of ideologies that look to develop with society rather than against it.
One thing is clear, current Canadian drug policy, at least as it relates to cannabis, has proven to be an ineffective model of control. So what tricks do the new Canadian government have up their sleeve to fix this problem? It remains to be seen. However, this election is a positive step. Canadian drug policy reform would be a positive step. Above all, the successful implementation of a new, executable cannabis policy would have an impact throughout the globe. Your move Canada. The world is watching.
What do you think about the election of Justin Trudeau? How do you think it will impact the global cannabis industry? How about here in America? Join the conversation and comment below!