Canadians want to legalize marijuana, too

November 7, 2012

It's a rare day when Canada looks to the United States as a picture of liberalism.

On Tuesday, voters in Washington state Washington state and Colorado approved initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21. Now, pot advocates in British Columbia are vowing to do the same thing in Canada.


An Israeli woman works at Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm near Safed, Israel last week. Dan Balilty/AP

Dana Larsen, the leader of Sensible BC, has been campaigning to hold a similar referendum on the legalization of marijuana in the province in fall 2014.

CBC News reported:

[Larsen] watched Washington's marijuana initiative with a mixture of envy and a hope for what might happen up here.

 

"We need to follow the example put forward by Washington State to end prohibition, to legalize it" Larsen said.

In Ottawa, the Young Liberals of Canada also applauded the decision by U.S. voters:

"This is an important first step and inspiration to activists in Canada who want to see Canada embrace a smart drug policy" said David Valentin, vice president of communications for the Young Liberals in a statement issued on Wednesday morning.

Marijuana use is illegal in Canada, other than for medicinal purposes, but there have been a number of efforts to legalize it.

British Columbia's municipal politicians voted in September to push for pot decriminalization and to study the potential benefits of taxing and regulating the substance, saying such a move would help curb gang violence around B.C.'s marijuana market.

And last year a trial judge in Ontario struck down parts of the province's marijuana prohibition laws, arguing that the statute is "of no force and effect," prevents patients from accessing medical marijuana and should be overturned. The government swiftly put the reversal on hold, but the case is still awaiting an appeal in the Ontario Supreme Court.

Ontario's situation illustrates what might happen in the U.S., as federal drug laws and the new state laws now have some glaring differences.

As the Post's Sari Horwitz reported, the two states' decision sets the stage for a battle with the Justice Department because federal laws prohibit the use of marijuana as a recreational drug.

 

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Max Fisher · November 7, 2012