for marijuana use may vary across Canada: legalization official
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[July 07, 2016]
By Ethan Lou
TORONTO (Reuters) - Minimum ages for
marijuana consumption may vary across Canada when it becomes legal, but
authorities will be firmly against drug tourism and cross-border
movement of the substance, the Liberal government's point man on the
issue said on Wednesday.
The government also wants consistent nation-wide impaired-driving
laws for marijuana, said Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the
justice minister, as the country formulates a new drug law ahead of
a spring 2017 deadline.
"We would like to see consistency and a consensus across the country
on the best way to keep our roadways safe," Blair, the former
Toronto police chief, said at an interview in his Toronto
He said provinces should have a say, but legalization led by
individual regions, such as in the United States, causes a
“difficult situation,” in which state laws sometimes contradict
Canada's Liberal government said in April it will introduce
legislation to legalize marijuana's recreational use. It has formed
a task force that will report back in November.
Blair cautioned the government has not made firm decisions on many
aspects of legalization, which will be heavily influenced by the
task force's report. But he said the government does "not
necessarily" need a nation-wide marijuana consumption age, citing
different ages provinces have for alcohol use.
Canada intends to implement regulations to "discourage" drug
tourism, as the country is taking a strict public-health approach
and is not out to make money, he said.
Blair said people will not be able to take marijuana out of the
country due to international conventions restricting drug movement.
The government may also increase penalties for trafficking, which
would remain an issue as foreign marijuana would not have adequate
quality controls, he said.
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He and other politicians have said that for now, unregulated
marijuana sales remain illegal, despite their flourishing since the
Liberals came to power.
But enforcement, handled by municipalities, has been inconsistent,
and many marijuana shops continue to openly defy the law.
Blair said enforcement is ultimately not a federal matter, though he
is satisfied with the current level of enforcement.
"It doesn't mean everybody needs to be in jail," he said.
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