A bill to to legalize marijuana in Canada passed a crucial step on Thursday, with the Senate approving the legislation at third reading. If ultimately implemented, Canada would become the first G7 nation to fully legalize cannabis.
The bill, C-45, represents a key campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party—and it was sponsored by Independent Senator Tony Dean. The bill passed the traditionally conservative Senate 56-30, with one abstention.
Dean said he “would rather not let those harms [of prohibition] continue both on the social side and the health side,” in a closing statement. “I would like to join other jurisdictions—like those in the U.S.—that have seen signification diversion” of marijuana from the black market to a regulated system.
The vote took place one day after the prime minister announced the appointment of two Independent senators to vacant seats, sworn in hours before the vote, which some saw as an effort to ensure the legalization bill passed.
Because the Senate also approved almost 50 amendments throughout the debate process—including one that would let individual provinces prohibit home-grown cannabis and another to limit cannabis companies’ ability to use products like t-shirts and hats to advertise their brands—the legislation must first go back to the House of Commons. Should the House accept the amended language of the bill, legalization would “technically” be the law of the land, CTV News reported.
The reason for that technical stipulation is that the government estimates that it will take as many as 12 weeks before the retail sales system is implemented. The bill must also be approved by “Royal Assent,” which is generally a formality where a representative of the Canadian monarchy sanctions the legislation.
A technical amendment approved during the third reading on Thursday would require a committee review of the legislation five years after implementation.
What C-45 would accomplish
The bill would legalize the sale, use, possession, and limited cultivation of marijuana for adults 18 and older. Under the legislation, the government would create a regulatory system designed to reduce youth marijuana use and imposes taxes on retail sales, among other responsibilities.
Sessions Talks Marijuana With Anti-Legalization Canadian Senators
Photo courtesy of Christopher Policarpio.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Canada Marijuana Legalization Bill Clears Critical Hurdle
Three Canadian Senate committees submitted reports detailing a series of proposed amendments to the government’s marijuana legalization bill this week, threatening to delay and dilute what advocates consider an historic development in cannabis politics.
Though the traditionally conservative Senate passed the bill as written 44-29 in a second reading on March 22, it must now vote on amendments recommended by committees. One such panel is specifically advising the Senate to delay the bill for “as much as a year.”
Here’s what you need to know about each committee report:
Senate Legal And Constitutional Affairs Committee
A majority of Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs members proposed several amendments to the bill, including increased penalties for organizations found to be illegally exporting cannabis, limitations on the amount of dried marijuana an individual may possess and a ban on home cultivation.
The committee also unanimously expressed concerns about the risks of implementing marijuana legalization for “vulnerable populations, including youth and people living with mental illness,” as well as “the intrusion of organized crime in the cannabis industry.”
Their report will be considered by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which is scheduled to submit its own report on May 29.
Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee
The Committee on Aboriginal Peoples submitted a report that called for as long as a year delay on the bill, arguing that Indigenous communities were inadequately consulted about the legalization measure.
In its report, the committee proposed eight amendments. It’s seeking funding for “culturally specific education” about cannabis, the right for Indigenous communities to set their own cannabis taxes and penalties and excise tax revenue for public health and addiction treatment programs, among other things.
“Indigenous peoples are entitled to a say in how the government implements the legalization of cannabis,” Senator Lillian Eva Dyck, who chairs the committee, said in a press release. “They have expressed real concerns to us—the potential for increased harmful effects on indigenous communities on the one hand, and the possibility of losing out on economic opportunities on the other. We must address these issues.”
Senate National Security And Defence Committee
Finally, the Committee on National Security and Defence released a report that called on the government to continue talks and “negotiate an agreement” with the United States about possible consequences for Canadian travelers crossing the border after legalization.
The report cited witness testimony that Canadians may run the risk of facing longer interrogations at the border “and/or inadmissibility for life for a cannabis offense, or for simply admitting previous cannabis use to U.S. customs and border protection officers.”
The report comes about a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch prohibitionist, met with Conservative Canadian senators to discuss the possible ramifications of the country’s pending legalization of marijuana.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Guarded About Prospect of Legalization Delay
Asked about senators’ proposed delay on the implementation of marijuana legalization, Trudeau “left the door open,” The Canadian Press reported Wednesday.
Declining to comment specifically, Trudeau said simply that “legalization is not an event, it’s a process.”
If the Senate accepts any of the committees’ amendments, the bill would then go back to the House of Commons for another vote. Such a delay may impact when legalization would be implemented. And in the event that the House rejects any amendments approved by the Senate, another bicameral volley would again set back the timeline for implementation.
Trudeau’s governing Liberal party initially pushed for legalization to take effect in July.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Canada’s Marijuana Legalization Bill Faces New Challenges
The Canadain government could yield as much as $5 billion per year in tax revenue from the sale of legal cannabis, according to a newly-released report.
The report, conducted and released by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), arrived at the final tally through an examination of both Canadians’ average rate of consumption of recreational cannabis and the revenue schemes enacted in the U.S. in states where cannabis is legal, such as Colorado and Washington.
“The bottom line is that the federal (and) provincial governments might reap as much as $5 billion from legalization, but only if all the underground sales are effectively curtailed,”
wrote Avery Shenfeld, an economist for the CIBC. “That’s on the order of 0.25 per cent of GDP, no barnburner.
“The desirability of increased marijuana tourism inflows will be questioned, no doubt, but they would generate additional fiscal revenues for government on their other tourist spending,”
The Canadian government, headed by newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has promised to legalize cannabis nationwide, and institute a tax and regulatory scheme following its legalization. Trudeau has insisted that the legalization of the product is not about increasing government revenue, but rather about an improvement of public health.
“It was never about a money-maker, it was always about public health, public safety,” Trudeau said in December.
The reduced costs of enforcing out-dated cannabis laws may also decrease government expenditures, according to Shenfeld. Considering that former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair will aid in shaping the legal cannabis market in Canada, it will likely be designed to reduce costs for law enforcement.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed former Toronto police Chief Bill Blair to aid in the Liberal party’s efforts to reform the nation’s cannabis policy.
“We have pretty robust systems of regulation for other intoxicants in this country, mostly overseen by the provinces and so we’ve already got a model, a framework we can build on here,”
“I think there are certain modifications or adjustments that we may have to make for cannabis as opposed to alcohol, but I think there is already a strong system in place for the control and regulation [of marijuana].”
Blair, who has voiced support for the stance taken by Trudeau’s Liberal party in the past, was offered praise and support by Toronto’s current mayor, John Tory.
“Somebody like Bill Blair, who I think is an open-minded, thoughtful person and who has experience with marijuana from the other side when it has been illegal, will be very well-suited to dealing with it,” said Tory.
“I think this is a complicated and delicate matter in terms of the considerations that have to apply to ensure that kids don’t have access to it and it’s handled in the right kind of way.”
Liberal party politicians are likely to back the Trudeau government’s proposed overhauls. One Liberal politician, Premier Kathleen Wynne, reported recently that cannabis should be allowed to be sold legally in outlets provincially owned and regulated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
The Liberal party has long argued that the country’s marijuana laws are ineffective as they lead to Canadians being forced to live with criminal records for possessing even small amounts of marijuana. According to the party platform, the consumption and use of cannabis will be removed from the nation’s criminal code so that regulations can be established to regulate retail sales, thereby eradicating the black market and preventing the sale of cannabis products to minors.
Photo credit: cp24.com