Feds stop by Mission, Abbotsford to talk marijuana legalization

Department of Justice is meeting with police and city officials from Ontario to B.C.

Ottawa is expected to table marijuana legislation in the spring.

Bill Blair isn’t leaving any stone unturned in his cross-country tour on marijuana legalization.

Blair, a Toronto police chief turned parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, in asking municipalities, educators and police departments all over Canada about their concerns ahead of the Trudeau government make the drug legal.

“We’re changing the current criminal prohibition to a system of strict regulations,” Blair told Black Press between speaking to officials in Mission and Abbotsford on Thursday. He said he spoke with Greater Toronto police and city officials last week, and met with police in Vancouver and Langley earlier this week. The plan is to continue consultations across the country even after possession of marijuana is no longer a crime to monitor how the new system works.

Ottawa has pledged to introduce legislation to legalize pot in the spring. In December, a federal task force recommended selling marijuana via mail or in storefronts, separate from tobacco and alcohol, to Canadians 18 years and older. The task force set a recommended growing limit of four plants per person.

READ MORE: Federal task force sets out pot recommendations

“Right now, we have the highest rates of marijuana usage of any country in the world,” Blair said.

“The current system of prohibition is doing a lousy job from protecting youth from the hazards of cannabis use.”

READ MORE: History of pot use still causes border troubles

Blair’s consultation focuses on protecting youth and taking pot profit out of the hands of organized crime. He said the government has talked to U.S. states such as Colorado and Washington State, where officials are learning as they go about the dos and don’ts of legal pot.

“They’ve been very forthcoming about unintended consequences,” said Blair, including the different forms that legalized pot has taken. “In Colorado, they didn’t take into consideration high potency products and edibles. The market became very prolific there with those substances.”

 

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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