Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become one of the cannabis legalisation movement's greatest allies since taking office in October. And his latest plans for legal pot demonstrate how the public can benefit from cannabis whether or not they are smoking it.
Once the country implements its legalised cannabis system, Trudeau said that revenue from pot sales will fund addiction treatment, mental health services, and education programs. Rather than put the money toward general revenues, Canada intends to use cannabis sales to support public health.
"It was never about a money-maker. It was always about public health, public safety," Trudeau told The Canadian Press last week.
To be sure, the prime minister recognises that cannabis will likely bring in "a bit of revenue," but he wants to make pot taxes low in order to keep the substance off the black market. Canada plans to legalise, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis; that means making cannabis affordable for eligible adults and preventing criminals from profiting off pot.
"The fact is that, if you tax it too much as we saw with cigarettes, you end up with driving things towards a black market, which will not keep Canadians safe, particularly young Canadians," Trudeau said.
The Canadian federal government appears to be taking a page straight from the Colorado legalisation playbook with this latest announcement. Colorado—which legalised cannabis for recreational and medical purposes in 2012—plans to use pot revenue to fund a range of social services, including addiction treatment and education programs.
But unlike the U.S. federal government, which prohibits cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, Canada's Liberal party is already acting to remove cannabis use and possession from the country's Criminal Code. Instead of punishing people for smoking pot, Trudeau said there will be new laws that severely punish those who provide pot to minors or drive while under the influence of cannabis.
"Trudeau promises to set up a task force with representatives from the three levels of government and, with input from experts in public health, substance abuse and policing, design a new system of cannabis sales and distribution," The Canadian Press reported.
"We are going to get this right in a way that suits Canadians broadly, and specifically in their communities," Trudeau said.