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The campaign for the national legalization of recreational marijuana took major steps forward in Canada last weekend after the government announced plans to introduce legislation.

The goal of this legislation, which is planned to be introduced next month, will be to fulfill the campaign promises made by the Liberal government to legalize cannabis by July 1, 2018. Following the recommendation of a marijuana task force led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, the following rules would be applied to cannabis regarding growth, ownership, and possession:

  • The national age requirement to purchase cannabis will be set at 18, but provinces will be able to increase the age limit as they see fit.
  • In addition to the age limit, provinces will control the price, as well as the manner in which cannabis is bought and sold.
  • The federal government will be in charge of licensing producers, as well as regulating the supply of cannabis across the country.
  • A limit of four plants per household will be established for those who wish to grow their own recreational cannabis.

The national age requirement to purchase cannabis will be set at 18, but provinces will be able to increase the age limit as they see fit. In addition to the age limit, provinces will control the price, as well as the manner in which cannabis is bought and sold. The federal government will be in charge of licensing producers, as well as regulating the supply of cannabis across the country. A limit of four plants per household will be established for those who wish to grow their own recreational cannabis.

Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, briefed the Liberal caucus about the proposed new cannabis legislation, as well as the process of implementing the new rules and regulations. These guidelines adhere to the recommendations laid out by the task force’s December report. The main purpose of this report was to study how the Liberal government could stick to their campaign promises of legal cannabis throughout Canada.

The proposed timetable of the introduction of legislation comes almost exactly a year after the government initially created the widely publicized one year timetable of cannabis legalization and regulation. This issue of legalization, which has been widely debated between members of the Liberal and National Democratic Parties, recently took center stage during the NDP leadership debate in Montreal.

 

Citing the fact that the federal government has yet to keep its 2015 promise of recreational cannabis legalization, members of the NDP vying for the position of party leader suggest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not truly committed to enacting this change. B.C. MP Peter Julian is one of those members.

“I believe in legalization,” Julian said during the second National Democratic Party leadership debate. “I do not believe Justin Trudeau is going to bring in the legalization of marijuana and as proof that . . . we are still seeing, particularly young Canadians, being criminalized by simple possession of marijuana.”

While the proposed regulations, and a time-table for enacting them would beg to differ from this position, the warnings issued from PM Trudeau recently seem to support those with concerns. The Prime Minister referred to the timetable again recently when he said that the legislation would be introduced before the summer months, while at the same time making it clear that cannabis is in no way currently legal in Canada.

The raids and arrests made even more recently on individuals and dispensaries in major Canadian cities breathe life into some of the concerns that many opponents have against the Liberal government’s dedication to cannabis legalization. Trudeau has urged police to “enforce the law” when it comes to recreational cannabis, even with the pending legislation and legalization date moving closer.

“The promise we made around legalizing marijuana was done for two reasons … that I was very, very clear about: one, to better protect our kids from the easy access they have right now to marijuana; and, two, to remove the criminal elements that were profiting from marijuana,”

he said.

“We believe that a properly regulated, controlled system will achieve both of those measures. But we haven’t brought in that properly regulated, controlled system because it’s important that we do it right in order to achieve those two specific goals.”

While this may be seen as political posturing for a government that is reluctant on enacting cannabis legislation, the fact of the matter is that the illegal sale and distribution of cannabis in this manner is just that, illegal. Whether the promises made by the Trudeau led government will come to fruition is yet to be seen, but one thing that is certain is that the Canadian people seem poised and ready for recreational cannabis legalization.

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