It looks like some Canadians aren’t going to be able to “turn up” the way they would have liked for Canada 151. Justin Trudeau said in an interview with Quebec’s TVA Tuesday that the government won’t be legalizing marijuana on July 1, 2018 like we all thought. In fact, he apparently doesn’t even know where all of Canada got the idea that weed would be legal on that date (maybe it was this official document from Health Canada). When asked by interviewer Pierre Bruneau why he was so set on the Canada Day roll out, Trudeau shook his head and responded that July 1 was never his plan.
“The date will not be July 1, I can assure you of that,” the PM said, “I don’t know where that date came from.” He did, however, assure Canadians that legalization will be coming sometime “next summer.” No more specifics were offered, meaning it could be as early as June or as late as September (but our bets are on after July 1).
This announcement may come as a relief to provincial and municipal governments and law enforcement who have all voiced concerns about the legalization date (which it would seem they also thought was July 1). In June, Canada’s Premiers and some police chiefs warned the federal government that the July 1 deadline was not enough time to come up with regulation plans, re-train law enforcement, start education initiatives and ensure that they could eradicate organized crime from the marijuana business. At least now, Trudeau may have given the provinces a little more breathing room for figuring out the logistics of legalization.
More than the supposed change to the date, we’re a little concerned by this potential gaslighting attempt by our Prime Minister. All the official government documents available to us say that the Cannabis Act will become law “no later that July 2018.” While that’s not exactly as specific as “Canada Day 2018,” everyone took it to mean that. Trudeau can probably understand why Canadians and media ran with that date. It’s a little problematic that he dismissed it so flippantly. Not to put too fine a point on it: but trying to convince the public that something they know is true isn’t is a dangerous political tactic (most famously used by the likes of Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump). Also, if all of Canada was operating on the assumption that July 1 was the big day, why not set the record straight in April when the “no later than July” announcement was first made? The date Canada legalizes marijuana is a relatively small deal, but these comments by Trudeau are a good reminder that our beloved PM is still a politician and we still need to hold him to account.