In a press conference in Vancouver today with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Roberts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau elaborated on his government's plans to work with provinces and municipalities to regulate the distribution and sale of cannabis. Trudeau touched on several relatively specific jurisdictional points, highlighting that cities like Vancouver have a say in the process of what legal cannabis in Canada will look like. The Prime Minister also highlighted the government will be collaborating with people from the legal medical marijuana industry in Canada, and best practices from other examples around the world.
"The move to legalize, to control and regulate marijuana is based on a concern that it is too easy for our young people to access marijuana right now," the Prime Minister told the gathered press. "We have the highest rate of underage us of marijuana of any of 29 different developed countries. That has to stop. We have to protect our kids. And at the same time, we need to remove a significant revenue stream from criminal organizations and street gangs. So that is the lens with which we approach the regulating and controlling of marijuana.
"Obviously the criminal code will need to be adjusted if we're going to control and regulate, and that's something the federal government will do, but when it comes to distribution, when it comes to selling and engaging, obviously the provinces and indeed the municipalities will have to be an integral part of that discussion. We're expecting there to be different perspectives and different solutions put forward across the country by various municipalities and provinces. The challenge of getting this important initiative right, is one of ensuring we are broadly listening to partners, folks form the medical marijuana industry, to municipal partners, to provinces, and, of course, drawing on best practices from around the world.
"That's why we are ensuring that we are going to get this right, we're going to get this right in a way the suits Canadians broadly and specifically in their communities, and why we're taking the time to weigh in properly and ensure that we're achieving our gaols of protecting the young people and removing the criminal profits form marijuana."
Mayor Gregor Robertson elaborated on the issue of municipal control, as well.
"We've had to undertake regulations of the dispensaries because there was no thoughtful controls coming from Ottawa, historically," said the Mayor. "So it's a relief to hear the Prime Minister's commitment, along with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, they will be working on this partnership to ensure we have a smart and effective way to regulate marijuana, and as partners on the ground in cities, we'll do our share."
Vancouver has seen an explosion in the growth of dispensaries in the past few years, with over 100 operating within city limits currently. The city of Vancouver, along with cities like Victoria BC, have begin taking steps to manage and regulate the proliferation of unlicensed medical cannabis dispensaries. The Federal Government affirming a commitment to work with cities like Vancouver shows a marked shift in policy direction from the previous Federal government. Vancouver has recently announced that 8 of the over 100 dispensaries in the city have made it to the third stage of their licensing process. How many will make it through the final approval stage, or how this will tie in to Federal and Provincial plans for regulation remains to be seen.