Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau thinks there are lessons to be learned from the legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states.
Sales of marijuana to adults over 21 began January 1 in Colorado as the state legalized pot for recreational purposes.
Washington’s stores are expected to open in late spring.
Last summer, Trudeau admitted to smoking pot after becoming an MP and has maintained that legalization in Canada is a good idea.
He said Canada would benefit from keeping a close eye on the experiences in Colorado and Washington state.
He said there are all sorts of questions to be asked about how it actually works in practice.
“It’s just how they balance the need to protect people and control a substance and respect people’s freedoms,” Trudeau told reporters after a 90 minute meet-and-greet with 200 supporters in Okotoks, south of Calgary.
“I’m very interested in drawing on best practices and not repeating mistakes that other people might make.”
What matters now, Trudeau said, is ending a marijuana prohibition policy that he says costs law enforcement $500-million a year and has left 475,000 people with criminal records since the Conservatives took office in 2006.
“The fact of the matter is our current approach on marijuana — the prohibition that Stephen Harper continues to defend — is failing in two primary ways. The first one is it is not protecting our kids from the negative impacts of marijuana on the developing brain,” said Trudeau.
“Secondly, we are funnelling millions upon millions of dollars each year into organized crime and criminal gangs. We do not need to be funding those organizations.”