Despite promises to legalize marijuana, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a tough stance on current marijuana regulations, saying “the law remains the law” during a visit to Esquimalt Thursday.
“We are moving forward on a framework to regulate and control marijuana, to protect our kids and keep our communities safer from criminals and organized crime,” Trudeau said while he was at CFB Esquimalt.
RELATED: Trudeau greeted by protesters.
Marijuana regulations have been in the spotlight over the past year, especially in Victoria, where roughly 35 marijuana dispensaries have sprouted. But marijuana regulations have been a grey area for the City of Victoria, as with many other municipalities, with mayor and councillors wondering if it's necessary to impose new regulations if the drug will be legalized in the coming months.
Despite concerns, city council approved a number of new rules to regulate the booming industry in September, including restrictions on age and hours of operation, no on-site consumption and a ban on advertising. Dispensaries must also obtain a $5,000 business licence and pass a $7,500 rezoning process to operate legally.
Last month, the city also voted to send one of the first marijuana dispensaries to public hearing. Other public hearings are expected to follow suit as 16 of the 25 dispensaries in operation have applied for rezoning and 29 have applied for business licenses.
According to Trudeau, the move to regulate marijuana was to protect children, and take the billions of dollars that criminal organizations and street gangs are pocketing through the sale of the drugs, and direct them into a system that can be monitored, taxed and used to support people who are facing drug use challenges.
But until that framework is established, marijuana remains illegal in Canada.
“Until we have brought in legislation and move forward with a framework to do those two things, the current law remains the law,” Trudeau said, adding the federal government hopes to bring in legislation before the summer.
“I cannot stress enough that until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current law applies.”
— Kendra Wong (@Kendraewong) March 2, 2017
Trudeau said there are currently no plans to legalize other illicit substances.
As part of his one-day visit to Victoria, the prime minister also went for a run with Canadian Forces members, along with Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan. Following the run, Trudeau toured CFB Esquimalt, HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Chicoutimi and met other Forces members.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps also had the opportunity to meet with Trudeau at City Hall later the same day, amidst a couple of hundreds of protestors, some protesting the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and electoral reform, among other things.