Canada Moves Towards Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Cheryl Sanders
April 15, 2017

Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada, but the harsh language of the new legislation is a buzz kill for the country's cannabis consumers.

It would allow people to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried or fresh cannabis and sets the minimum at 18 years of age, though provinces can set a higher legal age.

"We know that criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities", said parliamentary secretary Bill Blair. "There's an opportunity to eliminate the black market, so we need to be very careful".

The bill also introduces a number of new penalties and toughens already existing laws regarding alcohol and drug-impaired driving.

Only cannabis grown by a federally licensed producer would be available for sale, though Canadians could grow up to four plants at home.

Trafficking outside the new regime would continue to be illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, as would selling cannabis to youths, driving under its influence, and importing or exporting pot. The legislation is expected to be passed through Parliament as parties both to the right and left of Trudeau's Liberal government have signaled support.

No matter where it's sold, customers still would not be allowed to bring marijuana products back to the United States under any circumstances. "We're going to change that", according to a tweet from his official account. However, the government has allowed the provinces to set a higher age limit if they wish to do so.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale agreed with Blair. "Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world ..."

Producing or distributing marijuana outside the government regulation would be considered serious offenses, officials said.

The provinces also have to figure how they will regulate distribution.

The Couillard government says it is disappointed with the federal government's bill to legalize marijuana. Its also a departure from the norm in the USA, where states that have legalized recreational marijuana use have set a minimum age of 21. While eight USA states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalise recreational marijuana, the White House has suggested that the Department of Justice will do more to enforce federal laws prohibiting recreational marijuana, raising concerns over how Canada's approach will coexist with a potential U.S. crackdown.

Canadian authorities say they worked closely with their American counterparts when they drafted the law, the Guardian reports.

In spite of many lawmaker's enthusiasm for the proposed law, Canada's nation-wide legalization of recreational cannabis could conflict with worldwide drug treaties which still ban the substance.

Aphria chief executive Vic Neufeld said the legislation is a good beginning, but leaves a lot of blanks to be filled, such as more explanation on permitted marketing and related practices.

Other reports by iNewsToday