Advertisement

Canada one step closer to marijuana legalization

Click to play video 'Federal government announces launch of marijuana legalization task force' Federal government announces launch of marijuana legalization task force
ABOVE: Federal government announces launch of marijuana legalization task force – Jun 30, 2016

The federal government has announced the first step toward an eventual legalization of marijuana in Canada, with a law expected to be tabled in the spring of 2017.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the creation of a task force on Thursday morning in Ottawa, calling it “the first step in a process.”

“Our intent is to come up with legislation that will regulate non-medical access to marijuana, keeping it out of the hands of children and the hands of criminals,” she said.

READ MORE: Canada Day 2016: Canadians overestimate rates of smoking, drinking, getting high

The justice minister was careful to note that until the new law is in place, the drug is still illegal in Canada. The legal exceptions for medical use will also remain in place, she added.

Story continues below advertisement
WATCH: Standing marijuana laws will be enforced even as government formalizes legalization legislation
Click to play video 'Standing marijuana laws will be enforced even as government formalizes legalization legislation' Standing marijuana laws will be enforced even as government formalizes legalization legislation
Standing marijuana laws will be enforced even as government formalizes legalization legislation – Jun 30, 2016

Over the next four months, the task force will consult provincial, territorial, indigenous and territorial governments, as well as youth and experts in relevant fields like healthcare, criminal justice, economics, industry and law enforcement.

The group will also be speaking to companies with expertise in the sale, production and distribution of marijuana, officials said Thursday.

The task force will be chaired by former Liberal cabinet minister and deputy prime minister Anne McLellan.

WATCH: Bill Blair discusses his role in the federal marijuana legalization task force
Click to play video 'Bill Blair discusses his role in the federal marijuana legalization task force' Bill Blair discusses his role in the federal marijuana legalization task force
Bill Blair discusses his role in the federal marijuana legalization task force – Jun 30, 2016

McLellan told reporters she was “pleased” to be chosen.

Story continues below advertisement

“Given my past experience, I do have an appreciation for the complexity of the task,” she said. “I know that this is a topic that is of interest to many Canadian for different reasons.”

Canadians can contribute to the conversation via an online consultation tool, which will launch Thursday.

“The task force members and I look forward to the challenge ahead of us,” McLellan said, adding that her group is most concerned about how best to legalize marijuana, not whether it should be done in the first place.

NDP still pushing for decriminalization

The NDP’s Guy Caron said his party was “extremely disappointed” by what it heard Thursday morning.

He said the NDP doesn’t necessarily think legalization should be rushed, but that the government should at least decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the interim.