Canada’s new prime minister was only sworn in less than two weeks ago, but he has already directed his government to begin the process that will lead to the nationwide legalization of marijuana.
“I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities [including]a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana,” Prime Minster Justin Trudeau wrote to Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s new justice minister and attorney general.
The move is in keeping with a campaign pledge to begin formulating a plan to end prohibition “right away.” Support for legalization was also included in the official platform of Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which swept the country’s October 19 federal elections with a strong majority.
It is unclear how long it will take the new government to formulate and enact a system to tax and regulate marijuana, or what its specifics will include, but the early move by Trudeau is an indication he intends to follow through on what he promised during the campaign. Parliament is scheduled to resume on December 3.
Trudeau also directed the health and public safety and emergency preparedness ministers to assist Wilson-Raybould in formulating the plan for legal marijuana in separate letters made public on Friday.
As Canada moves forward with legalization to the U.S.’s north, marijuana reform is also on the rise south of the border, in Mexico. The Supreme Court there ruled earlier this month that growing cannabis for personal use and distribution should be a right. While the ruling only currently applies to the four plaintiffs who brought the case, it has caused shockwaves around the world and could ultimately lead to nationwide legalization if the court takes up additional cases and rules similarly. Separately, last week, a senator from the country’s ruling party introduced a bill to legalize the importation of medical marijuana.
And the U.S. is just fine with these moves, according to a State Department official. “It’s up to the people of each nation to decide policies,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said at a press conference in response to questions about the growing marijuana reform momentum in Canada and Mexico.
Within U.S. borders, marijuana is currently legal in four states and the District of Columbia. It is expected that at least five other states will vote on ballot measures to end marijuana prohibition next November, and advocates believe that a handful of state legislatures could enact legalization even sooner.