Local advocates hope Trudeau keeps promise to legalize marijuana

HALIFAX – Before Canada was painted red on Monday, Justin Trudeau pledged to legalize and regulate marijuana.

“The Liberal Party is committed to legalizing and regulating marijuana and we are going to get started on that right away,” Trudeau told a crowd of supporters during a campaign stop in British Columbia in September.

Trudeau says legalization would fix a “failed system” and help “remove the criminal element” linked to the drug.

That promise has marijuana advocates in the maritimes waiting for Trudeau to fulfill his promise.

“When’s he starting that’s all I want to know,” Chris Backer, Vice-Chair of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana said Wednesday.

Backer wants marijuana made legal. He says the financial benefits on taxed marijuana for government and for individuals who purchase the drug should be enough for legalization.

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“Right now licensed producers are charging 12 of more dollars a gram. Once it’s legal and anyone can grow it for themselves the price will come down to like three dollars a gram,” said Backer.

Christopher Enns, owner of Farm Assists Cannabis Resource Center in Halifax provides patients who have medical authorization legal access to the drug. Enns says a new law would further benefit those who need it for medical purposes.

“What we do know is that patients right now are facing a struggle to access the medicine they need and right away. He (Trudeau) needs to move in order to increase access to patients,” said Enns.

The Liberals have yet to develop a specific plan to regulate or tax marijuana, saying they are waiting to look at best practices in other jurisdictions before deciding on how proceed with regulation in Canada.

For some that means a wait and see scenario, including police who admit legalization could change the look of enforcement.

“We will see what an enforcement action would look like on a police behalf but it certainly would take out a part of our work in relation to more low level recreational use,” said Deputy Chief Bill Moore of the Halifax Regional Police.

However, since Trudeau pledged legalization people are preparing for it. Stocks prices have doubled at Canada’s largest organic marijuana producer, OrganiGram in Moncton, New Brunswick.

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“I believe there was a lot of anticipation in the marketplace with investors as to what the results of the election would be,” said Roger Rogers, President of OrganiGram.

Despite the anticipation by marijuana advocates, even when the new Federal Liberal Government moves forward with changing the law, it will take some time.

Legislation would need have to drafted and approved in the House of Commons and the Senate, a process that would take a couple of years.

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