Trudeau unveils bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Canada

Cheryl Sanders
April 27, 2017

A week before 4/20, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already given pot enthusiasts a good reason to celebrate: On Thursday, he unveiled a new bill that would fully legalize marijuana, making Canada only the second nation in the world to do so.

The proposal, which the party hopes to make law by July of 2018, sets a minimum purchase age of 18, which is one year below the legal drinking age in most Canadian provinces and three years below the minimum age set in USA states that have legalized recreational weed.

"Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities", said Bill Blair, a lawmaker and former Toronto police chief involved in the legislative process for the legalization bill. Possession will be limited to 30 grams - one ounce - of dried or fresh marijuana.

Under the federal government's proposal, the provinces must determine how the drug is bought and sold within their borders, how much the drug will cost the public and how old a customer must be to buy recreational marijuana.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the existing laws have been an "abject failure" in protecting public health and safety, keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stopping the flow of profits to organized crime. Under the new regime, the federal government will license marijuana producers, while the provinces will be in charge of distributing and selling the product to Canada's adult market. Visitors will not be allowed to bring bud or any product containing it back across the border of course, but won't face any restrictions on the amount of pot they may consume while in Canada.

The bill, inspired in part by the experiences of cannabis regimes in Colorado and Washington state, goes well beyond the USA situation, where marijuana remains prohibited at the federal level.

"I know that the use of cannabis among our young people is among the highest in the world".

"If you add 10 or 15 seconds to every vehicle inspection on average at the border, you're going to back up the cars a significant amount of distance", he said.

Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, contrasted Trudeau's policy with the ominous rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on recreation marijuana.

'The only control that is now in place is the criminal sanction and the laws, ' he said, according to CBC News. This is in line with the age recommended by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation.

The Canadian government also would take over responsibility for setting "strict requirements for producers who grow and manufacture cannabis", including potency standards and tracking systems to prevent diversion of legal marijuana into the black market.

However, the legalisation will be divided between the federal and provincial governments.

Under the law, it would be illegal to sell marijuana packaged or labelled in a way that could be construed as appealing to young people, to include testimonials or endorsements, or to depict a person, character or animal. Provinces could raise the minimum age of consumption if they choose, the government says.

"This is an orderly transition, not a free-for-all", he admonished.

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