A bill to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use in Canada received final approval from lawmakers on June 19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet will choose the specific date on which the law will take effect, and legal sales are expected to begin within eight to 12 weeks.
Canada will be just the second country — and the first G7 nation — to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level, MPP reports. The first was Uruguay, where legislation was signed into law in December 2013 and a limited number of pharmacies began selling marijuana to adults in July 2017. Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and eight of those laws include systems for regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, creates an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Anyone over the age of 18 will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce is 28 grams) of marijuana, and all products will be sold in plain packaging with clearly marked labels.
“This is a historic step forward for the movement to end marijuana prohibition,” stated Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We commend the members of Parliament and the prime minister for their extraordinary demonstration of leadership on this issue. Canada will set a great example for countries that are considering similar reforms, and it will inspire much-needed debate in those that are not.”
Tvert continued, “Marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol, and Canada is about to start treating it that way. Adults will finally be able to purchase it safely and legally in regulated, taxpaying businesses rather than resorting to the illegal market. Products will be tightly controlled and subject to strict packaging and labeling requirements, rather than being sold in plastic baggies alongside other illegal substances. It is time for the U.S. to take similar action and adopt a more rational federal marijuana policy. There has been a lot of positive movement in Congress lately, so hopefully members will be inspired to finally address this issue head on, as Canada has.”
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