Canadians sitting in prison or stuck with a criminal record for crimes related to marijuana have a reason to vote Liberal in this October’s federal election.
At an August 19 campaign stop in Vancouver, prime ministerial hopeful Justin Trudeau reiterated a campaign promise to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. He then went one step further, adding that after a Liberal government is elected and has reversed laws that criminalize marijuana, it will begin discussing what should happen with people who have been charged for transgressions that the country no longer considers criminal.
“That’s something that we’ll be looking into as we move forward,” he said, answering a question from the Georgia Straight. “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.”
Trudeau initially took the question as an opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime record on marijuana.
“One of the things that we’ve seen is that Mr. Harper’s approach on drugs is actually financing gun runners and street crimes,” he said. “Mr. Harper has failed in his drug policy. It is time that Canada regulated and controlled marijuana to protect our kids, to protect our communities, and to prevent the funds from flowing into the coffers of drug runners and street gangs. It is time that we did that. It is time that Canada adjusted to the reality that controlling and regulating marijuana is a way of both protecting our kids, protecting the public, and ensuring that we are not financing gangs to millions and millions of dollars. And that is what we are committed to and that’s what we’ll get cracking on when we form a government.”
The federal NDP led by Thomas Mulcair has said it supports decriminalizing marijuana and, if elected, will consult with the provinces on the possibility of further reforms.