Marijuana laws still on books so need to be enforced, says Liberal

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Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, speaks as a panelist as the Senate Liberals hold an open caucus meeting and panel discussion on the legalization of marijuana on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. T

Law still law despite plans to usher in legalization, says Liberal MP Bill Blair

OTTAWA - Canadian laws on marijuana remain on the books and must be upheld and enforced even though the government plans to usher in legalization, former Toronto police chief and Liberal MP Bill Blair said Wednesday.

Blair, parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, was among several officials who spoke at an open Senate Liberal caucus meeting focused on the legalization of marijuana.

Blair has been tapped by the Trudeau government to take a leading role on the file, working closely with the departments of Justice, Public Safety and Health.

“The laws that currently exist, exist in this country and we are a ... nation of laws,” Blair said.

“Quite frankly, until those laws are repealed by Parliament through the appropriate processes, they should be upheld, they should be obeyed.”

The criminal sanctions should be eventually be replaced by a regulatory framework, Blair added.

Jim Munson, a member of the Senate Liberal caucus, said the government's time frame gives him pause, considering the upper chamber studied and recommended legalizing marijuana some 14 years ago.

Munson asked Blair if there was a contingency plan for thousands of Canadians who walk around with criminal records for possession charges.

“In the interim, as everybody works on these issues, is that a possibility - that amnesty could be granted during this four-year term?” Munson asked.

Blair did not answer the question directly.

“We are going to take the time to do it right.... This is a complex issue,” Blair said. “In order to get this right, the government is undertaking a number of initial steps.”

The first step in the path to legalization will be establishing a provincial, territorial and federal task force to hear from public health, substance abuse and public safety experts.

The details of task force should be announced in the coming weeks, Blair said.

Clive Weighill, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, also addressed the Senate forum on Wednesday.

He said legalization will change the world of enforcement on marijuana and front line police will need new training.

Organizations: Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Toronto

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Recent comments

  • lucas
    February 24, 2016 - 19:01

    let us all take a good look around us before Prime Minister Sunny Ways turns Canada into a nation of pot heads, - it will never be the same again. Any estimates on how many young children will suffer brain damage from this experiment, or does it matter? Half the world are already mental health cases---

    • elfi
      February 25, 2016 - 08:52

      hey yeah, and your one of them!

    • James
      February 25, 2016 - 12:31

      Lucas, calm down, you don't know what you're talking about. What about the brain damage and myriad ill effects from alcohol? Are you suggesting we should go back to prohibition of alcohol on that basis? what in your view would happen to society if marijuana were legalized? I'll tell you what will happen. lower incarceration rates, more taxpayers working instead of rotting in jails, and tax revenue from the sale of marijuana could fund many things, including health care for the mentally ill.

  • This Person
    February 24, 2016 - 15:01

    I did a double-take when I first saw that photo it looks like smoke wafting up from his hand.