If Justin Trudeau could roll back the clock to the spring of 2015, he might choose a different marijuana promise. Long before he had any chance of winning the federal election, Trudeau promised to legalize cannabis. But if he could do it over again, or if he knew at the time that he was about to become prime minister, I suspect he would simply propose to decriminalize possession.
Eliminating criminal prosecution for simple possession would have been an appropriate and manageable first step and would have been more in line with the expectations of Canadians than setting up a series of cannabis stores owned by either the government or the private sector. The government’s legislation has now been approved by the Senate, but there are still many hurdles to cross before the finish line.
There are still many issues around impaired driving and eliminating the black market that could come back to haunt Trudeau. The Liberals have fulfilled their promise, but the introduction of legal cannabis could still be very problematic.