Canada's government will introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in the spring of 2017, according to an announcement made by the country's health minister on April 20.
Health Minister Jane Philpott spoke in front of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which considered potential solutions to the global epidemic of drug use and drug-related crime, according to Global News.
Philpott’s announcement indicates Canada’s Liberal government will legalize and regulate marijuana use in upcoming years, partly in response to the sequence of criminal activity that occurs when marijuana users are arrested under harsh marijuana use laws.
“We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals,” Philpott said. “While this plan challenges the status quo in many countries, we are convinced it is the best way to protect our youth while enhancing public safety.”
According to Philpott, decriminalizing marijuana use would allow the government to more closely monitor its use and to prevent public health epidemics, such as overdoses and crimes resulting from drug abuse. Philpott, who said she had seen “people suffer the devastating consequences of drugs, drug-related crime, and ill-conceived drug policy,” hailed the upcoming legislation as a bold step towards a healthier country.
“Our approach to drugs must be comprehensive, collaborative and compassionate. It must respect human rights while promoting shared responsibility. And it must have a firm scientific foundation,” Philpott said. “In Canada, we will apply these principles with regard to marijuana.”
A study conducted by the Angus Reid Institute released the day of Philpott’s speech showed that 68 percent of Canadians feel marijuana should be legalized, and that 65 percent believe legalization will do more good than harm. Of those surveyed 36 percent feel the opposite.
Others, such as National Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair, believed that the announcement came too late, and that marijuana should be legalized immediately.
“There are thousands and thousands of mostly young people who will have criminal records for the rest of their lives because [Canadian Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau did not respect his promise to legalize marijuana as soon as he took office,” Mulcair said, according to Global News. “If he found it too complicated, which is apparently the case, the least he could have done was immediately decriminalize.”