Canada’s Marijuana Legalization Plan Holds to ‘Spirit’ of Drug Treaties, Task Force Leader Says

Article by Kristy Kirkup, Globe and Mail

Canada’s marijuana legalization plan holds to ‘spirit’ of drug treaties, task force leader says

A former Liberal cabinet minister who led a federally appointed task force on legalizing cannabis says Canada’s plan to greenlight 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 in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“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 United Nations 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 said.

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 how it deals with drug-impaired driving.

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