Ottawa (AFP) – The world is closely following Canada’s plans to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an exclusive interview with AFP, predicting that several nations would follow suit.
Canada will become the first G7 nation to authorize the production, sale and consumption of the mind-altering drug this summer. Uruguay did so five years ago and several US states have too.
Although the Senate has sought to delay the pot bill until the ramifications of legalization are better understood and addressed with regulation, Trudeau predicted a legal market will be established “this summer.”
“There is a lot of interest from our allies in what we’re doing,” the prime minister said one month before he welcomes fellow G7 leaders for a summit June 8-9 in La Malbaie, Quebec.
“They recognize that Canada is being daring… and recognize that the current regime (of prohibition) does not work, that it’s not preventing young people from having easy access to cannabis,” he said.
“In many countries, especially in Canada, it is easier (as a minor) to buy a joint than buying a beer. It does not make sense! Organized crime is making huge sums of money on the illicit sale of marijuana.”
Trudeau explained that creating a regulated market will take it out of the hands of crime groups and “better protect communities and children.”
“The allies I spoke with are interested in seeing how things go… before they try it,” Trudeau commented, without specifying which nations.
“If it works well, and I expect it to work well, it would surprise me enormously that they would delay studying models that might work for them.”
Once Ottawa legalizes cannabis, it will be up to the provinces to set up distribution networks and enforcement.
Statistics Canada has estimated the market will be worth Can$5.7 billion ($4.5 billion US), based on last year’s consumption data.