Bill Blair, the Canadian MP leader of the task force on consultation for marijuana legalization, told CBC on Wednesday that he prioritizes “getting it right” and does not feel “pressured” by time.
In July, Canada is expected to be the first developed nation worldwide and the second country after Uruguay to legalize marijuana.
“We made it very clear that it is our priority to replace the criminal sanction with a strict regulatory framework to protect our kids, to reduce organized crime involvement and facilitate robust public response,” he told CBC after pro and anti-marijuana legalization advocates met with the governing Liberals at the open Caucus meeting.
Blair also announced $1.4 million funding to aid research on marijuana ahead of legalization.
Liberals have made the legalization of marijuana one of the key goals of their election platform.
Asked if he felt pressured over the July deadline, Bill, a former police chief, said: “I feel pressured to get it right,” citing “evidence” and scientific research as important for consultation.
He added: “Evidence supports the idea [marijuana] it is not a benign drug and can be dangerous for young.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau himself admitted that marijuana can be “problematic” for the “developing minds,” as its THC component can interfere with brain functions for growing teenagers.
Meanwhile, Jodie Emery, a prominent activist for the legalization of marijuana, attended the open caucus. Emery, who plead guilty and was sentenced to marijuana-related court case late last year, is among other Canadians who want charges revoked especially since Canada is heading towards decriminalization.
Asked why this is not happening, Bill said the current law is still standing and “must be obeyed.”
He also said impaired driving due to drug use has been a problem for decades.
On Feb. 6, the Senate will resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, and to hear from: Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health; Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; and Bill Blair. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.