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Cannabis in Canada:  O’ Cannabis  

By Jaime Bayers  

One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most well-known promises during his campaign was to legalize marijuana. Since the election, many locals on the Eastern Shore who voted for Trudeau have been eagerly awaiting the day that Trudeau’s proposal to legalize cannabis for recreational use becomes law. 

But Trudeau’s promise may be on a collision course with a surprising obstacle: three treaties Canada has with the United Nations that require countries to classify marijuana as an illegal substance: The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.  

Here’s the kicker: to legalize marijuana without violating these treaties, Canada would have had to withdraw from these treaties by July 1st, 2017, a deadline that was recently missed. And so far, spokespeople for federal government are vague as to what the government plans to do now about the issue and still meet the Liberal’s July 1st 2018 date for legalization.  

We spoke with a number of Eastern Shore residents, ages 17 to 47, about the possibility that legalization might not happen, or at least not on the current schedule. Many of those we interviewed voted for Trudeau in part due to his promise of legalizing marijuana. We even heard from one non-user who was still strongly in favour of legalization: “I don’t use it, but I know that it would help people medically who haven’t gotten a prescription and, if it’s like anywhere else, I think crime rates would go way down.”  

Most people were not aware of the possibility that the UN treaties might prevent Trudeau from meeting his 2018 legalization deadline. Several said they were willing to give him more time if necessary. But if nothing has happened by the time of the next election in 2019, almost everyone we spoke with said they would likely not vote for him again, although that would not deter them from using marijuana. As one put it, “I will smoke it either way.”  

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