British Columbia

Former Vancouver mayor says Senate will meet deadline for pot legalization

Former Vancouver Mayor and Senator Larry Campbell says the Senate should have no trouble meeting the July 1, 2018 deadline for marijuana legalization.

'We're going to take a look at all the evidence and go forward,' says Senator Larry Campbell

Former Vancouver Mayor and Senator Larry Campbell says bill C-45 is just like any other piece of legislation. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

Senator and former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell says Canada's Senate should have no problem meeting next year's July 1 deadline to legalize marijuana.

The federal Liberal government has said it plans to legalize recreational marijuana use by July of 2018.  Control of Bill C-45, the legislation concerning legalization, will soon move from the House of Commons to the Senate. 

Since setting the deadline, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed several independent senators with no party ties.

By heeding concerns raised by law enforcement and provincial leaders, the Senate could decide on a number of routes for legalization, which could slow down the process, potentially resulting in a missed deadline.

Can meet deadline, says Campbell

Conservative Senator Ghislain Maltais has said, "there are 95 senators and as many opinions."

However, Campbell said the Senate is more than capable of meeting the July 1 deadline, and views C-45 no differently than any other piece of legislation.

"I don't see any difficulties from the point of the legislation as we go forward," said Campbell.

"We get timelines all the time and it's very rare we haven't been able to meet them."

He was appointed to the Senate in 2005 by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, but he and other Liberal senators were ejected from that caucus in 2014 by Trudeau in a move aimed at reducing partisanship in the upper chamber.

Campbell said there are plenty of jurisdictions the government could look at where legalization has been successful.

'Craft pot' for B.C.?

"How did it work in Denver? It's not like we don't have models for what's working, what's not working, what the dangers are ... We're going to take a look at all the evidence and go forward," he said.

Concerning B.C., Campbell said it's a very real possibility a "craft pot" industry could take root in the province, just like Vancouver's growing craft beer industry, but what distribution will look like falls to each individual province.

"We've seen some say it will be in a liquor store, some other provinces say it will be distributed from store fronts. That's a provincial responsibility," said Campbell.

"It's legalizing a drug, so it's a complex matter, it's not a simple matter. But we can learn from other jurisdictions."

He said ultimately, the Senate has a responsibility to roll out the legislation in a way that will solve more problems than it creates.

With files from On the Coast