Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made a seemingly tone-deaf comment about legal weed recently—but is he actually out-of-touch, or just recognizing his own privilege in a broken system?
During a speaking event, Trudeau recalled a story about his brother’s involvement in a car accident, and his close call with illegal possession charges.
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“[Trudeau’s father] reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer and was very confident that he was going to be able to make those charges go away,” he said. “We were able to do that because we had resources, my dad had a couple of connections, and we were confident that my little brother wasn’t going to be saddled with a criminal record for life.”
Why did this strike a chord for marijuana activists? The Guardian explains:
Trudeau’s Liberal government tabled legislation earlier this month to fully legalise marijuana by mid-2018, putting Canada on course to become the first country in the G7 to do so. But the legislation has since been criticised by some over its failure to include an amnesty for those with pot-related convictions – despite the government’s acknowledgment that those with criminal records often have trouble finding work, housing or travelling outside the country.
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Trudeau went on to explain his reason for bringing up this story from his family’s past: “People from minority communities, marginalised communities, without economic resources, are not going to have that kind of option to go through and clear their name in the justice system. That’s one of the fundamental unfairnesses of this current system is that it affects different communities in a different way.”
Will he work to make legal weed more equitable for all? Time will tell, as legislation moves forward. For now, he seems to have good intentions toward making the legal weed industry fair for all.