New Brunswick’s four opposition parties say marijuana should be decriminalized now, so people won’t be punished for possessing small quantities of a drug that will be legal by July 2018.
The federal government recently announced it will legalize marijuana July 1, 2018, following the recommendation of a task force.
The government has not said how police or courts should handle the product until then, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded the public that marijuana is still illegal.
Speaking for the provincial New Democratic Party on Thursday, Andrew MacLean said prosecution of drug offences makes sense for large drug busts, but arresting people for possessing small quantities “is unacceptable.”
The government should decriminalize marijuana, so people won’t have their “lives ruined over something that is quite trivial and will be legal within a year,” he said during the CBC New Brunswick Political Panel.
Progressive Conservative MLA Carl Urquhart and Green Party Leader David Coon agreed that people shouldn’t be prosecuted for small-scale possession of marijuana.
But Coon said it was frustrating the federal group studying the legalization of marijuana didn’t make public its findings on how small drug offences should be approached in the lead-up to legalization.
Urquhart suggested chiefs of police should decide where their officers are best used, and that’s where provincial and municipal dollars for policing should flow.
But he also said small marijuana cases would tie up the courts and cost a lot of money to prosecute.
“I don’t think the rank-and-file police officer should be told if you come onto it, you ignore it,” he said. “It is still illegal.
“But the revenues from…