WATCH: The House of Commons won’t debate the motion until next Spring, when legislation will be introduced, but the NDP said they could do something about it right now. Monica Martinez explains.
Monday was Opposition Day in Parliament and the federal New Democrats put forward a motion to decriminalize marijuana before it is legalized.
“The majority of the convictions for pot possession involve young Canadians, who should not be burdened with criminal records for the rest of their lives especially when the government plans to legalize marijuana at some point in the future,” said NDP Youth Critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach.
Legislation to legalize marijuana won’t be ready for another year and the NDP said decriminalize it first is the natural next step.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said leader Tom Mulcair. “They already signaled clearly that they are going to be legalizing. I think that is a move that reflects the mood of society today. We will be supporting that, but for heaven’s sake finish the job, decriminalize right away.”
Marijuana activist Ted Smith said continuing to arrest people for possession until the last minute is absurd. He has seen many young people’s lives permanently changed by a possession charge.
“People are losing their children because they are in possession of cannabis at times. It’s ridiculous. People are being thrown in jail because they are in possession or have THC in their system,” he said.
This year, as many as 60,000 Canadians will be arrested for simple possession of marijuana and 22,000 will end up with criminal records, according to the NDP.
Victoria MP Murray Rankin introduced the motion and said in Victoria people don’t get charged for possession very often, while in other parts of the country it’s more common.
This year, Saanich Police has had 11 calls for marijuana possession. They charged one person.
In 2015, they had 47 calls, and out of those, they again, only charged one person.
The Liberal government said they want to make sure pot is kept out of the hands of children and that criminals won’t profit from legalization. They said immediate decriminalization would not address those issues.
Members of Parliament still have to vote on the motion.