USA TODAY US Edition

Canada’s new governing party promises to legalize, regulate marijuana sales

- Trevor Hughes

Canada’s leap to the left in Monday’s elections could have the country singing a new anthem: “O Cannabis.”

The United States’ largest trade partner overwhelmi­ngly selected Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party to run Canada, a sweeping change that may lead to full marijuana legalizati­on for our northern neighbor, which already allows medical pot use.

Trudeau promised that under his leadership Canada would create a system to tax, regulate and sell marijuana, along with stiff penalties for anyone giving pot to children or caught driving while stoned. The Liberal Party’s cannabis legalizati­on statement echoes the language used by many U.S. legalizati­on advocates.

“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibitio­n does not work,” the party’s position statement says. “To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

U.S.-based cannabis activists hailed Trudeau’s election as a milestone, suggesting that a day may soon come when cross-border trade talks include not just the Keystone XL pipeline, maple syrup or prescripti­on drugs, but also legal weed. Border states Alaska and Washington have already legalized recreation­al marijuana use, as have Colorado, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

“It’s no longer a pipe dream to imagine a day when consumers and growers in Washington state and British Columbia, for example, could be ordering each other’s wares on the Internet for cross-border shipment,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalizati­on Marijuana Majority.

Trudeau earlier this month said he’d begin work to legalize marijuana in Canada “right away” if elected, but declined to specify a timeline for implementa­tion. His campaign told CBC News that it was looking to Colorado as a potential model.

Colorado permits residents to buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, and taxes each sale. Last month, the state collected nearly $12 million in marijuana taxes, with the money used to fund school constructi­on and anti-abuse campaigns.

In 2003 and 2004, Canada’s Liberal Party offered a proposal to decriminal­ize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but the plan died and a Conservati­ve government took power in 2006.

Since 2001, Canada has permitted medical marijuana use, as do 23 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

 ?? JOE AHLQUIST, AP ?? Colorado, where residents can buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, could serve as a model for Canada.
JOE AHLQUIST, AP Colorado, where residents can buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, could serve as a model for Canada.

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