The Liberal Government’s Rationale for the Legalization of Marijuana

Canada’s Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, made a fairly shocking announcement about the future of marijuana legalization in Canada back on April 20th of this year. In front of a group of international delegates at a UN General Assembly, intended to review the execution of the UN’s 2009 action plan on drugs, Philpott declared that Canada, “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,” as reported by CBC News

“We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem,” – Philpott

At a recent event hosted by The Economist called the Canada Summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an impassioned speech discussing the rationale behind his decision to support an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by next year. Trudeau downplays the obvious economic benefits, stating that the Liberal government’s approach to legalizing marijuana “is not about creating a boutique industry or bringing in tax revenues.”

Trudeau went on to outline the two fundamental principles used to justify his Cabinet’s strategy. The first, having to do with enhanced child safety, a goal also mentioned by Philpott at the UN General Assembly.

“The first one is: young people have easier access to cannabis now, in Canada, than they do in just about any other country in the world. In 29 different countries studied by the UN, Canada was number one in terms of underage access to marijuana.”

Trudeau’s facts are derived from 2013 study by conducted by UNICEF, Child well-being in rich countries: A comparative overview. The 28% figure Trudeau quotes is 4% higher than the next highest country, Switzerland. Emphasis was also placed on the potential health risks marijuana consumption has on a young child’s developing brain.

“The other piece of it is there are billions upon billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of organized crime, street gangs and gun runners because of the illicit marijuana trade.”

The criminalization of marijuana essentially breeds organized crime, forcing criminals to come up with dangerous and occasionally creative ways to circumvent both the law and law enforcement. Legalization eliminates the need for people to obtain recreational pot through illegitimate means, eliminating the need for an underground drug trade to exist at all.

Jason Quintal | June 24, 2016

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