Here’s Canada’s New Legal Marijuana Plan

By Tom Angell | April 13, 2017

The Canadian government officially introduced legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana on Thursday, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to do during his 2015 election campaign.

Here are some of the most important details about what the proposal would do:

  • Allow adults over 18 years of age to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household.
  • The goal is to implement legalization by July of 2018.
  • Decisions on where and how marijuana is sold, including price controls, will be decided by provinces. They will also be able to decide if marijuana can be sold where alcohol is also sold.
  • The federal government will regulate legal marijuana producers.
  • Provinces would be allowed to set higher legal ages.
  • People under 18 won’t be allowed to legally use marijuana but they won’t face criminal penalties for possessing small amounts.
  • Marijuana vending machines will be prohibited.
  • Producers will not be able to infuse marijuana products with caffeine, nicotine or alcohol.
  • Edibles and other products will be “available later,” and decisions on packaging and labeling will be made by regulators after the legislation passes.
  • New criminal penalties will be imposed for providing marijuana to minors or taking it over international borders.

The full text of the bill is available here.

Separate legislation would crack down on impaired driving — not just for marijuana but for alcohol and other drugs.

Police would use roadside oral fluid tests to determine impairment if they have reasonable suspicion that a driver has drugs in his or her body. Based on a positive reading, blood samples could then be collected.

Between 2 and 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC content in the blood would be a conviction criminal offense, punishable only by a fine. Having more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in the blood would be a more serious hybrid offense.

A copy of the driving bill’s draft as prepared for introduction is here.

The Canadian government has prepared several briefings about the proposal, including a summary of its goals, a backgrounder on federal and provincial roles and responsibilities, a chart outlining proposed criminal penalties for activities outside the law, an overview of driving enforcement changes and a press release that quotes several government officials.

“As a former police officer, I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis,” said Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice. “In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes. Today’s plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”

The legislation is silent on licensing fees and tax rates for legal marijuana. The government says information about that is coming “in the months ahead.”

Tom Angell

Tom Angell is a senior political correspondent for MassRoots. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority and is editor of the daily Marijuana Moment newsletter.

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