Canada Moves To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

The federal Liberals announced a new suite of bills in the House of Commons April 13 to legalize recreational marijuana by July 1, 2018.

Bill Blair, a member of parliament and former Toronto police chief who has led the government's marijuana reform process, said that the government consulted extensively with officials in Colorado and Washington.

The government also aims to establish "significant penalties" for those who engage young Canadians in "cannabis-related offences" and a "zero-tolerance approach" to drug-impaired driving, along with a "robust" public awareness campaign. Prime Minister Trudeau's cannabis legislation would allow adults 18 or over to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in public.

Under these rules, individuals would be allowed to grow up to four plants at home for personal use. Marijuana producers say the federal government's proposed legal-pot regime needs more details to clarify issues like permissible advertising and distribution.

"The bills we propose today are aiming at putting drug dealers and organized crime out of the cannabis business", Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said. 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.

But Canadian provinces, tasked with the responsibility of regulating marijuana sales, are already scrambling to develop their plans under the potential law. 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.

You won't be able to buy it out of a self-service or vending machine.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was asked that question - whether the Liberal government had sought assurances from the USA that someone who admitted to using cannabis legally would not face the same fate.

With that in mind, here's a look at some of the rules surrounding legalizing marijuana in Canada-and if the United States will be the next to do so.

Each province will be free to design its own system to regulate the sale of marijuana, and to increase the age limit for sale, purchase and consumption of the drug.

In fact, the Department of Justice says that "more than half of all drug offences reported by police are for cannabis possession", and it had indicated that it was considering pardons for some of the people with cannabis offenses on their criminal records. For the most part, the bill follows the recommendations made by a recent federal task force on marijuana legalization.

The drug has created new enforcement challenges because there has never been a legal or verified scientific test to determine a level of THC - the psychoactive chemical in pot - that causes impairment.

Goodale said that Canadian officials have been in close touch with the USA government on the proposed law, and emphasized that exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal. Canadian provinces can raise that minimum age higher if they'd like.

She said: "One in seven youths who have used cannabis will develop an addiction to cannabis and that impacts your life, schooling, job prospects, social and emotional relationships".

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