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Canada sets its sights on making the sale of marijuana legal nationwide

Canadian government

(NaturalNews) The Canadian government plans to introduce legislation in 2017 that, if approved, would make the sale of marijuana legal throughout the country, the nation's health minister said.

As reported by the BBC, if the law is enacted it would make Canada one of the largest Western countries to permit widespread usage of the drug.

Health Minister Jane Philpott said in recent days that the objective of any legalization law would still be to keep marijuana "out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals."

Left-leaning Prime Minster Justin Trudeau pushed for legalization of marijuana during his recent campaign.

The announcement that the government would seek to legalize pot coincided with April 20 – an unofficial holiday for advocates of cannabis. Hundreds of marijuana users demonstrated outside Parliament in Ottawa last week.

Supporters say usage would be manageable

Pot is already legal in Canada for medical purposes, and some have argued the same things that other advocates have said in other countries pushing for legalization – that doing so would lessen their nation's burden on the criminal justice system.

"We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures," Philpott said. "We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem."

Not all Canadian government officials and parliamentarians, however, are on board with the legalization plan. MP Gerard Deltell, a lawmaker from Canada's opposition Conservative Party, says widespread legalization would harm the overall health of the country.

"That's one of the worst things you can do to Canadian youth - to open the door to marijuana," he told Reuters.

Trudeau has named Bill Blair, the former police chief of Toronto, to be the government's point man on the legalization process.

"We control who it's sold to, when it's sold and how it's used," Blair said likening marijuana to how alcohol is regulated, according to the BBC. "And organised crime doesn't have the opportunity to profit from it."

He added that pot would remain illegal in Canada while the legislation was being worked out; Philpott said those details had not yet been produced.

As reported by The Canadian Press in March, as the liberal government began its legalization push Health Canada identified nine key considerations – from possible health risks and benefits to the experiences of other jurisdictions – documents showed.

Critics say there will be more health, law enforcement issues

The Canadian Press
reported further:

A November 2015 ministerial briefing presentation, "Legalizing & Regulating Marijuana," was released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Some conclusions and recommendations were withheld from release, but the document offers insight into how the new government will navigate the issue.

Here were some key findings:

-- Usage rates: Eleven percent of the population age 15 and older used marijuana in the past year, according to a survey that was actually conducted in 2013. At 26 percent, use was highest in the 20-24 age group. This was defined as "relatively low overall rates of usage" and rates actually declined with age.

-- Risks: While some evidence exists that there is some therapeutic benefit to marijuana use, the documents said, for symptoms of chemotherapy, neuropathy and treatment-resistant epilepsy in children, the health community consensus is that there are also long-term risks to cognitive ability for users under 25.

-- Organized crime: Criminal enterprises are heavily involved in the marijuana trade, much of which is imported from the United States via Mexico and South America. Also, there are illegal grow operations throughout Canada, according to Canadian authorities. In addition, police have reported a small number of drug-impaired driving offenses, and critics say those are likely to climb if the drug is legalized throughout the country.






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