Article by Patrick Cain, Global News
Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was elected on a platform of legalizing marijuana. Since the election, the Liberals have been moving toward actually doing it. Last last year, a task force reported on the practicalities of legal pot, and legislation is expected this year.
But there’s an obstacle, which the federal government hasn’t said how it plans to deal with: three international treaties, one dating from 1961, that commit Canada to keep weed illegal.
Over the years, Canada has signed several international drug control treaties, which commit us and dozens of other countries to banning a long list of drugs, including marijuana: 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.
The treaties, and the government’s cannabis legalization project, are on a collision course. How to solve the problem?
There are four options, some more workable than others:
That’s a terrible idea that would unleash much bigger problems, explains University of Ottawa law professor Steven Hoffman.
“Canadians might not think that it’s such a big deal to break the UN drug control treaties, but we certainly care when other countries break other treaties, like treaties against genocide or human rights violations or nuclear non-proliferation,” he says. “Canadians should know that we can’t just pick and choose which treaties to follow, without encouraging other countries to do the same.”