Canada Announces Plan To Legalize Marijuana

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Just in time for 4/20, Canada’s Health Minister announced it will introduce a law next year to legalize marijuana for recreational use, AP reports.

The plan is being rolled out by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, espoused feminist and avid yogi, making good on his campaign promises to prioritize legalizing it. This sweeping legislation will take a hit at marijuana prohibition not just to pander to Liberal voters, however. Legal weed is a serious law-enforcement issue that disproportionately affects minorities and lower-income people, in the U.S. as well as in Canada.

Speaking at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday (April 20th, fondly known as 4/20 by cannabis enthusiasts), Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott expressed her conviction that sensical reform and regulation of marijuana for not just medical, but recreational possession and use — which is currently criminalized in Canada and in the U.S. — will help to protect youth, while working with law enforcement partners and the greater criminal justice system to ensure public safety.

"We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem,” Philpott said.

Health Canada is already working on the plan, with support from Justice and Public Safety, including plans to appoint a task force led by Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair. Meanwhile, current marijuana-prohibition laws will remain in effect.

The latest findings in support of full-scale decriminalization run the gamut. Cannabis is a potent treatment for mental illness, as well as for menstrual cramps, PMS or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). A study last year showed that marijuana use has more than doubled since 2001. Meanwhile, marijuana-related offenses account for over half of all drug arrests in the U.S. according to the ACLU, a stultifying statistic which has played heavily into the racially-charged issue of mass incarceration and immigration reform in our country.

Today, 24 U.S. states (plus the District of Columbia) have passed legislation legalizing recreational and/or medical marijuana, resulting in much headbutting with the federal government’s persistence on its hotly-debated Schedule 1 classification. With our nearest, dearest ally enacting this new wave of federal reform, hopes for prohibition repeal stateside are higher than ever.

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