Canada’s Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, told a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem that Canada would be introducing legislation to legalize marijuana consumption in the country.
The special session was called after Latin American countries called on the world to change the global strategy on combating drug abuse away from the War on Drugs approach that they say is harming their countries, making Minister Philpott’s comments consistent with the theme of the meeting.
The Minister said that consultations with NGOs, lawyers doctors and activists, as well as her experience as a medical doctor in both Canada and sub-Saharan Africa informed her opinion that the current drug policy was not working.
In building the case marijuana legalization, Philpott said:
“Our approach to drugs must be comprehensive, collaborative and compassionate. It must respect human rights while promoting shared responsibility. And it must have a firm scientific foundation.”
She said that her government will “apply these principles with regard to marijuana.”
The Minister added that legislation affecting marijuana would be introduced in Spring 2017, and remarked that it would both keep marijuana out of the hands of children, suggesting age restrictions in the new law, and criminals, pointing to full legalisation of the supply, instead of decriminalization.
Philpott acknowledged that Canadian legalization would conflict with policy in many countries, but that the Canadian government believes it’s the best way forward for the country.
The announcement is part of a raft of developments toward greater legal tolerance toward cannabis and its derived products. Australia recently passed legislation legalizing medicinal cannabis in the country. That legislation would not legalize cannabis for recreational use however.