Recent events hint at changes to Canada’s prohibition on marijuana. With an election of Liberal Party candidate Justin Trudeau for prime minister, a shift in Vancouver marijuana licensing practices, and a recent Supreme Court ruling, there may be changes in the overall attitude towards marijuana.
- Canada held federal elections on October 19th, which saw Justin Trudeau elected as the new prime minister-designate. Trudeau has said that his Liberal Party will work with Canada’s provinces to make sure that the sale, “control and regulation of marijuana is done in a way that’s responsible and suitable” and that Canada’s model will be based on “best practices from around the word.”
- The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, recently amended its bylaws to begin regulating business licenses for medical dispensaries. Though many interested parties hoped to obtain a license, few have been able to meet regulatory requirements. This is all despite the fact that selling marijuana in a storefront is still illegal, creating a space of legal uncertainty where the possession of medical marijuana is legal, but the sale of it is not.
- In early June, The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled in R v. Smith that restrictions on the means by which medical marijuana patients can use cannabis “unjustifiably violate the guarantee of life, liberty and security of the person.” The decision allows patients to use edibles and other marijuana products. Previously, patients were only allowed to smoke cannabis. Cannabis proponents viewed this decision as a major victory. However, Health Canada, the government department responsible for Canada’s public health, reminded the public that “marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada and has not gone through the necessary rigorous scientific trials for efficacy and safety,” and those in possession must still fall under specific exemptions to Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
These events are far from pivotal, but may reflect changing attitudes towards marijuana in Canada. If Canada does legalize marijuana, US regulatory schemes will likely serve as models for marijuana regulation in Canada.