Jean Chretien calls for decriminalization of marijuana possession

HALIFAX – Former prime minister Jean Chretien says it's time for Canada to decriminalize marijuana possession, saying the change is long overdue.

Chretien made the comment today after taking part in a ceremony to mark the official opening of a public policy think-tank at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The former prime minister says it is unacceptable for anyone to be saddled with a criminal record for simply smoking marijuana.

When Chretien was prime minister, his government tried in 2003 to pass a law decriminalizing simple possession of small amounts of marijuana, but the bill died when Parliament was prorogued.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to legalize the sale of marijuana – a more ambitious goal – but his government has said Criminal Code provisions on marijuana must be upheld in the meantime.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said the government should decriminalize marijuana right away.

© 2016 The Canadian Press