Pubdate: Sat, 20 May 2017
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Kristy Kirkup
Page: A4


OTTAWA - A former Liberal cabinet minister who led a federally
appointed task force on legalizing cannabis says Canada's plan to
green light the drug for recreational use is in keeping with the
spirit of international treaties - all of which criminalize the
possession and production of marijuana.

It will be up to the government to make the case in relation to the
treaties, Anne McLellan said Friday.

"We believe, as a task force, that we are, at least, in the spirit of
those treaties," she said. "Those treaties talk to the protection of
youth and young people, keeping young people out of criminal
situations. They speak to fairness and justice and they speak to
public health."

Canada is one of more than 185 parties to three UN drug control
conventions - the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971
Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against
Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

"I know Global Affairs has taken up this issue," she said. "This new
approach, we believe as a task force, is in keeping with the spirit of
the treaties ... That is all I'm willing to say, because it is up to
Global Affairs to determine the position they want to take."

Documents obtained early last year by The Canadian Press said the
Liberal government would have to do substantial work on the
international stage as it pursued the legalization of marijuana.

"As part of examining legalization of cannabis possession and
production, Canada will need to explore how to inform the
international community and will have to take the steps needed to
adjust its obligations under these conventions," a government memo

McLellan, a former Liberal justice minister, said other countries want
to see how successful Canada is at developing a legal market for
cannabis, how it addresses organized crime and deals with
drug-impaired driving.

The 2013 legalization of marijuana in Uruguay - a developing nation -
did not attract the same kind of attention Canada's plans have done,
McLellan said.

Canada is set to become the first G7 country to legalize

"We can be an example for those who want to move in this direction,"
she said. "We can try and anticipate some of the challenges and the
opportunities. How does this market develop?"

Canada has been watching Colorado and Washington as the states compile
data, because they are four years ahead in the process, she added.

"We can learn from them," McLellan said. "We can do the same things,
building on what they've learned. Others will build on what we learn
. Canada and the government have been clear they will share what
works and what doesn't with the rest of the world. We are seen as a
leader in terms of public health issues, public safety issues."

In the U.S., eight states - Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine,
Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington - and the District of
Columbia have voted to legalize and regulate cannabis for non-medical
purposes. The states represent more than 20 per cent of the U.S.
population or approximately 75 million people.

In April, the Liberal government introduced legislation proposing that
Canadian adults 18 and older be allowed to buy and cultivate small
amounts of marijuana for personal use. The federal government says it
wants to have a legalized system in place by June, 2018.
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MAP posted-by: Matt