Canada Introduces Legislation To Legalize Marijuana

The bundle of bills tabled Thursday in the House of Commons marks the start of a lengthy process which, once complete in July 2018, will usher in a dramatic cultural change, its ramifications reaching into almost every aspect of Canadian society.

The law was tabled on Thursday, and would allow adults over 18 to possess up to 30g of dried marijuana. The penalty depends on whether someone was hurt or killed during the offence. The law also defines the amount of THC in a driver's blood, as detected by a roadside saliva test, that would be illegal.

The legislation commits the federal government to additional investment for licensing, inspection and enforcement challenges, and promises a "robust" public awareness campaign about the dangers of impaired driving.

But Christina Grant, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Ontario, worries the government is conveying the message that marijuana is not harmful. And in some provinces, the governments are anxious to allow their retail alcohol monopolies to sell cannabis as well.

That is still the case.

Shares of licensed marijuana producers were trading lower following the announcement, including Canopy Growth Corp, which was off 2.8 percent to C$10.03, while OrganiGram Holdings Inc slipped 4.8 percent to C$2.95.

While Canadians will soon be allowed to legally enjoy marijuana, major gaps in our understanding of the drug remain.

The legislation would also hand provinces, territories and municipalities the right to set their own distribution rules, which could be a headache for producers dealing with a patchwork of regulations.


A suite of legislation introduced Thursday would, once passed, establish a "strict legal framework" for the production, sale, distribution and possession of pot, and make it against the law to sell cannabis to youth or use a young person to commit a cannabis-related crime.

Although recreational marijuana use has been legalized in some USA states, including Colorado and Washington, Canada would be the first Group of Seven country to legalize it nationally. Canada would be the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition of recreational marijuana.

Personal possession, however, would be limited to 30 grams (one ounce).

Canada has some of the highest marijuana use in the world, according to the task force, especially amongst young people. There are no details yet on how it will be priced or taxed. In Canada, legal adulthood starts at 18 in most provinces.

Arizona was the only one of five states that turned down a proposed recreational-legalization initiative.

Canada prohibited marijuana in 1923.

Such use is already allowed in the USA states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska as well as California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada. These represent more than 20 per cent of the total USA population, approximately 75 million people.

Despite introduction of the legislation, there remains a lot to be done before the legal regime comes into place. The federal government taskforce has suggested setting the limit at four plants per home.

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