The Canadian government passed a bill last night, (June 19), which will legalise recreational cannabis use.
The Senate passed the federal government’s legal weed bill, the last legislative hurdle in the country’s years-long process to legalise the drug.
The new law, which still requires Royal Assent, will allow adults to buy and consume small amounts of cannabis, though edibles will not be legalised until next year.
According to Vice, it’ll be another few months before legal sales properly start, as the government is giving retailers a grace period to get their systems in place in order to start selling, but it could be as early as September 2018.
Canada is the second country to legalise the drug for recreational use, after Uruguay became the first in December 2013. A number of US states have also voted to allow it.
The bill is likely to receive Royal Assent this week, and the government will then set an official date for when the law will come into force.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted:
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.
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
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2018
Most of the Canadian provinces have set the age to buy weed at 19-years-old, except Quebec and Alberta, where the age limit will be 18.
Mostly, sales will be conducted in private stores, but there’ll be home delivery and online sales from federal licensed producers, for people who do not live near a shop.
Consumption will primarily be confined to private residences, though some territories, like Nunavut and Alberta, will allow public cannabis consumption as long as it’s not in places where smoking is already prohibited, such as near hospitals or daycares.
However, the new law is not entirely supported, as some Conservative politicians and indigenous groups have voiced concerns their communities were not adequately consulted in the run-up to the vote.
Senator Leo Housakos tweeted:
Hope we are wrong on this piece of legislation. I think it will be catastrophic for Canadian generations to come.
Hope we are wrong on this piece of legislation. I think it will be catastrophic for Canadian generations to come. https://t.co/mUI4uZxOxN
— Senator Leo Housakos (@SenatorHousakos) June 20, 2018
The government is expected to give all provinces and territories eight-to-12 weeks to set up their marijuana marketplaces. The timeframe will also allow industry and police forces to prepare for the new legal framework, the BBC reports.
Adults will be able to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis in public, however, penalties will be severe for anyone caught selling cannabis to minors. They could face up to 14 years in prison.
Prime Minister Trudeau made a promise to legalise weed in his 2015 campaign, arguing old laws criminalising the drug have been ineffective, especially as Canadians are among the world’s heaviest users.
Polls have consistently shown a large majority of Canadians are supportive of the new plan.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.