Canada Senate, House Pass Cannabis Act To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on June 20th, 2018

Ottawa, Canada: Cannabis Act (C-45), earlier approved by the House Of Commons, also passed the Canadian Senate 52-29 (with two abstentions) on Tuesday evening – paving the way for a fully legal cannabis market within 8-12 weeks.

Cannabis Act (C-45) which legalizes recreational marijuana in Canada still needs the royal assent of the governor general, before the government decides on the date when the legislation will come into force.

The legalization of cannabis was a campaign promise of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party.

The newly-passed bill will allow adults in the country to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. It sets out parameters around the production, safety standards, distribution, and sale of the drug.

It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling cannabis to minors. The proposed federal law stipulates that it will be illegal for anyone younger than 18 to buy pot, but allows for provinces and territories to set a higher minimum age.

The bill represented a “historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould posited.

EARLIER: Canada House Of Commons Votes To Legalize Recreational Marijuana – Canada’s House of Commons passed the Cannabis Act (C-45) 205-82 to legalize recreational marijuana on Monday. The House was forced to vote on the bill after the Senate passed it’s version with 46 amendments to the legalization bill.

The house accepted some of the Senate’s proposed amendments on the cannabis legalization bill, sending the bill back to the upper chamber for continued debate and a final decision.

The bill would lift a 95-year-old ban on recreational marijuana and sets the government up to regulate production, possession and sale of marijuana to Canadians over the age of 18.

Major disagreements including proposals that would have banned branded merchandise, allowed provinces to prohibit citizens’ right to cultivate personal four-plant gardens, and the establishment of a registry program for shareholders of cannabis businesses.The House of Commons turned down some of the Senate’s proposed amendments, including a ban on pot producers selling branded merchandise and giving provinces the power to ban homegrown marijuana.

The Cannabis Act now heads back to the Senate, where some are discouraged by the stripping of amendments, but there’s hope that quick passage, without any more political back-and-forth, will allow legalization to be implemented soon.

Government House Leader Bardish Chagger told reporters Monday that she’s hopeful Bill C-45 will pass soon.

“What we’ve seen in this place is that anything is possible…. Most members that want to speak on it have been able to speak on it so I believe we can find a way forward,” she said.

Cannabis commerce, barring any unexpected political upheaval, is on track to be implemented this September in the Great White North. The cannabis industry is expected to quickly rival alcohol, bringing more jobs and revenue to the nation, and, most importantly more freedom. The ultimate success of the marijuana market depends on the government avoiding the establishment of regulatory obstacles that can unnecessarily stifle entrepreneurship. If left with sensible regulations, the Canadian cannabis industry is set to prosper and continue leading the global market.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party are set to fulfill their campaign promise to end prohibition and regulate sales to all adults across the nation.

The Senate could take its next step forward as early as Monday evening. Lawmakers have said they expect marijuana to be legal and available about September.

Regulated medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001.

In the U.S., medical marijuana is legal in more than two dozen states, and recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January reversed the Obama-era Cole memo that allowed states to legalize recreational marijuana. Sessions has been a vocal opponent to legal marijuana.

Breaking with his own attorney general, President Trump said earlier this month that he would likely support a bipartisan bill that would allow states to regulate marijuana without federal interference.

EARLIER: Canada Senate Passes Cannabis Act To Legalize Recreational Marijuana – The Canadian Senate voted 56-30 (with one abstaining) and passed a bill known as Bill C-45 the Cannabis Act, on Friday, to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

The Cannabis Act, outlines measures to control and regulate how cannabis is grown, distributed, and sold, while prohibiting any promotion, packaging, and labeling that could be “appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption.”

The Act outlines its purposes “to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.”

The Cannabis Act will now go back to Canada’s House of Commons,  which passed the bill in November 2017, for approval of amendments that the Senate added, and upon agreement of the final text, it heads to the Monarch or designate—usually the governor general—who can grant Royal Assent.

This puts Canada on track to legal recreational use by their July 2018 goal put forth in April of 2017.

Legalising weed was a 2015 campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has admitted having smoked a joint with friends “five or six times.”

The initial timeline for legal pot sales called for it to be available by July 1, Canada’s national day, but fall now appears more likely.

It would then be up to Canada’s provinces and territories to set up distribution networks and enforcement.

The sale of medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001.

Bill C-45 would allow individuals over the age of 18 to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana for personal use.

Sales to anyone under 18 would be banned under federal law but provinces and territories could set their own age limits.

It would also allow the federal government and the provinces to levy taxes on legal weed sales amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Pot sales would be through authorised retail stores much like the current situation regulating alcohol sales in Quebec and Ontario.

A total of 105 businesses have been authorised to grow marijuana and offer pot-based products. Under the new measure, individuals could grow up to four plants at home.

The government has also set aside funds to study the impact of legalised cannabis consumption on public health.

Statistics Canada has estimated that the market will be worth C$5.7 billion (US$4.5 billion), based on last year’s consumption data.

Uruguay approved the recreational usage of marijuana five years ago and nine US states have too but Canada will be the first G-7 country to do so.

In an interview last month, Trudeau said the world is closely following Canada’s plans and predicted several nations would follow suit.

“There is a lot of interest from our allies in what we’re doing,” he said.

“They recognise that Canada is being daring … and recognise that the current regime (of prohibition) does not work, that it’s not preventing young people from having easy access to cannabis.

“In many countries, especially in Canada, it is easier (as a minor) to buy a joint than buy a beer,” Trudeau said. “Organised crime is making huge sums of money on the illicit sale of marijuana.”

Trudeau insisted that creating a regulated market would take it out of the hands of crime groups and “better protect communities and children.”

However, he added the allies he spoke with “are interested in seeing how things go … before they try it,” without specifying which nations.

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