When I wrote the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy in 2011, it was difficult for politicians to even think about legalizing cannabis.
Stigma and discrimination around substance use made it easy to ignore the overwhelming evidence that our current laws of prohibition weren't working. Now, seven years later, I am proud to be a part of a government that will control, regulate and legalize cannabis as of Oct. 17, 2018.
It's important to remember that until that date, the recreational use of cannabis is still illegal. But it is incredible to see how far we've come.
During our process to legalize and regulate cannabis, Canadians told us that legislation must protect Canadians, especially youth, while enabling a diverse, competitive industry to allow large and small players who can displace the existing illegal market.
Our plan will better protect the health and safety of Canadians, keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and combat the growth of criminals and organized crime. We will invest in public health, maximizing education and minimizing harm with our approach.
A regulation framework also helps us ensure any tax proceeds go to strengthening communities. Provinces and territories receive 75 per cent of the tax revenue from the sale of legalized cannabis with one-third of that revenue expected to be dedicated to municipalities.
Over the past two years our government has consulted extensively on this plan with thousands of Canadians, provincial and municipal governments, Indigenous organizations, law enforcement, current and prospective producers and public health experts. My thanks to everyone, including those who attended our consultation with MP Bill Blair earlier this year in Thunder Bay, who helped create this historic legislation.
This is an evidence-based plan for Canadians, by Canadians and I look forward to legalized cannabis making our country a safer, healthier place to live.
Hon. Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour