Canada has become the second nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana. In June, its senate approved Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, paving the way for recreational-use legalization in October.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned on a promise of legalization, touted this final step in a tweet: “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept”
The first country to legalize was Uruguay, in 2013. In Uruguay, limited home cultivation is legal.
Bill C-45 establishes criminal penalties for sale or distribution of marijuana to young persons; enables the government to authorize the possession, production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis, as well as to suspend, amend or revoke those authorizations when warranted; authorizes persons to possess, sell or distribute cannabis if they are authorized to sell cannabis under a provincial law that contains certain legislative measures; prohibits any promotion, packaging and labelling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption, while allowing consumers to have access to information with which they can make informed decisions about the consumption of cannabis; provides for inspection powers, the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties and the ability to commence proceedings for certain offences by means of a ticket; authorizes the government to make orders in relation to matters such as product recalls, the provision of information, the conduct of tests or studies, and the taking of measures to prevent non-compliance with the law; permits the establishment of a cannabis tracking system for the purposes of the enforcement and administration; authorizes the government to set fees related to the administration of the law; and authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting such matters as quality, testing, composition, packaging and labelling of cannabis, security clearances and the collection and disclosure of information in respect of cannabis as well as to make regulations exempting certain persons or classes of cannabis from the application of the law.
Passage of the law is not without complications. Canada’s new law is in conflict with some international treaties to which it is a signatory. These treaties ban legal marijuana. Both advocates and opponents cite potential problems with implementation. These include the issue of traffic enforcement and testing. Under the new law, the provinces and local governments will have considerable say regarding such things as home cultivation and the extent of marijuana business operations. Some provinces are less welcoming of the new law, and in particular home cultivation, than others. The courts are sure to be involved in settling many of the issues involved in implementation.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the Obama administration’s Cole memo, which held off federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states in which marijuana is legal. This rescission puts state-legal marijuana businesses in jeopardy. Recently, however, President Trump hinted that he might change his own administration’s policy regarding marijuana, saying “I probably will end up supporting” a Senate bill that would put the Cole memo’s “hands-off” policy into law.
What do you think? What countries will follow Canada’s example? Leave a comment below.