Canadian senate passes weed bill but legalization delayed

Andrew Cummings
June 23, 2018

The Senate gave their final blessings to the bill to legalize cannabis on Tuesday, making Canada only the second country, next to Uruguay, to legally authorize the drug nationwide.

The federal government is basking in the hazy glow of its plan to legalize recreational marijuana, but it is reminding Canadians that pot remains illegal until the Cannabis Act actually goes into effect. (The Netherlands has a longstanding policy of tolerating marijuana use and retail sales, but the drug is still technically illegal there.) All told, more than 100 million people, including one in five Americans, live in the jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. 17 will be the date that marijuana will be legal across Canada. The proposed legislation allows adults in Canada to legally possess and use up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, as well as cultivate up to four cannabis plants at home and prepare products for personal use.

Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001.

The Federal Government has set a date for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Canadians will be able to legally purchase and consume recreational marijuana as of october 17 - one month later than expected.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gestures during a roundtable discussion with members of the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 17, 2018. If more use marijuana when they're in Canada, more will use when they're on vacation in the states.

The Prime Minister expressed his thoughts on the bill, stating: "It's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits".

The Liberal government had initially planned to have marijuana legalized sooner with the intention of beginning retail sales by July 1. It is expected to receive royal assent sometime this week. If that number holds true, marijuana would pass the liquor industry's profits in Canada.

Wilson-Raybould said the federal government has no intention of challenging provincial bans on home-grown pot but she noted that some individuals may well launch legal challenges. The western provinces will allow at least some private retailers to operate, while eastern provinces (including Ontario but excepting Newfoundland) are restricting sales to government-run stores. "We would like to commend the fearless advocates who spent years building momentum for all Canadians who participated in turning an idea into reality, this is your moment to celebrate". It has been estimated that the legal sale of the drug could eventually be worth up to C$7 billion annually.

In Canada, much like in the United States, people of color are more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses despite smoking marijuana at the same amount that whites do.

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