CANNABIS CULTURE – Bill Blair, the Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief put in charge of legalizing marijuana in Canada, said granting pardons to people convicted of pot possession “is not being contemplated at this time.”
“That is not currently under discussion,” Blair said, as reported by Buzzfeed.
Blair also said police should continue to enforce marijuana possession laws until the government can reform them.
“The only control that is currently in place is the criminal sanction and the laws,” Blair said. “… those laws must continue to be respected and upheld right across the country.”
This puts the Liberal Pot Czar at odds with some members of his own party and critics who say the Liberals are sending mixed signals to Canadians.
Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told CBC News that he would push for the decriminalization of marijuana right away and supported the idea of pardons for those previously convicted for pot.
“I do think we will need to review support initiatives for those granted amnesty / pardoned, in order to ensure that such individuals are given every opportunity to move past their previous records/incarceration, and given every opportunity to succeed,” Erskine-Smith said.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair called for immediate marijuana decriminalization last week, telling the press, “I think we owe it to ourselves to be clear on this to make sure nobody ever again in Canada gets a criminal record for simple possession of marijuana for personal use.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while running for election, promised to decriminalize marijuana as soon as he was elected.
From The Georgia Straight:
In a March 15 interview with CKNW, the leader of the Liberal party told Gord MacDonald he would take immediate action to decriminalize the drug.
“Will you bring forth legislation to do that in the first session of Parliament when Justin Trudeau is prime minister?” MacDonald asked.
Trudeau’s response: “Yes, it is our intention to move on this in a very rapid fashion. I mean, there were some mistakes made south of the border that we can learn from about leaping before looking and thinking it through. But it is something we plan on moving on immediately.
Trudeau also supported overturning marijuana convictions while he was campaigning.
“That’s something that we’ll be looking into as we move forward,” Trudeau said. “There has been many situations over history when laws come in that overturn previous convictions and there will be a process for that that we will set up in a responsible way.”
Blair admitted that arrest rates for marijuana possession in Canada are “shocking”, with 22,000 charges laid in 2014, but would not commit to a timeline for changing the laws.