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Ottawa strikes task force as it moves to legalize marijuana

Ottawa is taking the first major step toward marijuana legalization by forming a federal task force led by former deputy PM Anne McLellan, which will report back November.

The federal government has launched a travelling task force to study how best to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana.

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Published on: June 30, 2016

The Liberal government is making a hash of marijuana legalization by embarking on a needless consultation exercise led by a task force of well-meaning volunteers.

Four U.S. states made cannabis legal in 2012 and others are vocally following suit.

Canada, which has had a legal medical scheme for more than 15 years, has had calls for legalization for half a century.

The 1969 Le Dain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, set up by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s dad, recommended after three years’ study that the country decriminalize cannabis.

There have been all kinds of smart people and a broad range of groups — mayors, chiefs of police, former attorneys general, medical officers of health — who have since echoed the message.

Cannabis and a variety of other drugs have been freely available on North American streets for at least a generation. More consultation is needed?

The nation doesn’t need more conversation; it needs new laws to replace the existing confusion and injustice.

It is not premature after seven months in office to expect the federal government led by a party that campaigned on legalization to present its plan.

Some task force members, Dr. Perry Kendall for instance, certainly sound like good advisers on this issue.

But former Toronto top cop Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister in charge of the pot file, sounded like a character from Reefer Madness with his strident opposition to personal growing.

At the news conference Thursday, his eruption of concern about the “significant social and health harms” of marijuana and the dangers it poses to children was over the top.

An unreconstructed drug warrior is not needed here.

Cannabis legalization, on the contrary, is needed because criminalizing it helped turn school yards into black markets and gave society an enormous addiction monkey.

Legalization is an attempt to fix the problems a century of racist-inspired prohibition produced — endemic gang violence, a thriving criminal underclass and police budgets that are crippling municipalities.

The government estimates the illicit cannabis industry is worth $7 billion, the cost of policing it at $2.3 billion.

Anne McLellan, the former justice minister leading this group, sounded as out of touch as Blair with her assurance they are “undertaking a discussion” to look at what Colorado and Washington are doing.

Take your time, Anne, they’ve been at it for nearly half a decade. Oh, BTW, Alaska and Oregon legalized last year, too.

This is obviously unfocused busy work.

The Liberals already should been presenting their own proposal — and, regardless, legalization should have been examined as a policy option by the federal bureaucracy when American states approved recreational pot for adults 21 or older in 2012.

There is a plethora of real-world data and evidence, all kinds of papers on taxes, driving laws etc. and the various facets of legalizing cannabis.

Another round of chatter is redundant; the Liberals are playing dodge ball.

The regulatory, taxation, jurisdictional, advertising and other concerns should be dealt with under a parliamentary process, not delegated.

Will pot be treated like alcohol or tobacco? Will the medical production, distribution and regulation of cannabis for the ill remain within Ottawa’s bailiwick; recreational production, distribution and regulation within the provinces’ jurisdiction?

The country was looking for leadership, not dithering.

There should have been a federal-provincial working group appointed after the throne speech to develop legal blueprints for how recreational pot could be made available in the various jurisdictions.

While Blair wrings his hands with worry, remember people can grow their own tobacco, make their own wine and brew their own beer.

Marijuana is not benign, but it doesn’t even approach alcohol and tobacco in terms of associated health risks, perils to children and societal fallout.

Given the sea change in the U.S., it’s ridiculous that Ottawa would announce a lot more talk and a little a less action while illegal pot is sold like lattes in Vancouver and police in Toronto are raiding dispensaries.

This is more foot-dragging while thousands of otherwise law-abiding Canadians are at risk of capricious prosecution, prison and a life-altering record for smoking a joint or sipping a cup of herbal tea.

If this task force comes back in November saying it needs more time or couldn’t come up with a consensus, will the promised spring 2017 legislation be delayed?

Seems to me long-serving former prime minister Pierre Trudeau never followed up on the Le Dain recommendations and his promise to liberalize drug laws because of the pesky parliamentary agenda.

Article source Vancouver Sun

Marijuana Activists Respond To Launch of Canada’s New ‘Legalization’ Task Force


The Task Force is engaging Canadians on key questions related to the legalization, regulation and restriction of access to marijuana.

This is an opportunity to provide your input for a period of 60 days, between June 30 and August 29, 2016.

Toward the legalization, regulation and restriction of access to marijuana

More information on


The Government of Canada has made a commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana. To do this, a task force has been created to advise on the design of a new system. The Task Force is seeking the views of Canadians on issues that are key to the design of a new system. They will then provide the federal government with a final report.


The Task Force is seeking input from:

  • Canadians
  • provincial, territorial and municipal governments
  • experts in relevant fields
  • Indigenous governments and representative organizations
  • youth

More information on


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