Justin Trudeau finally unveils Canada's pot legislation
Apr 20 2017 by Kathy Alvarado
"Today's plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this", said Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.
"Legalization", he said, "seeks to regulate and restrict access to cannabis and will make Canada safer". He was the federal government's point man on the recreational-marijuana file.
The Canadian government would create a system to regulate marijuana production, distribution and sale.
Provinces will be allowed to sell only cannabis grown by a licensed producer. Provinces would be able to set higher age limits if they so choose.
Health Minister Jane Philpott says criminalizing cannabis has not deterred use among young people, noting products like alcohol and tobacco are legally available with restrictions.
Although the government has not decided anything about the endorsement of marijuana, reports suggest that the government has indicated that any marketing that would appeal young people will be prohibited. The new law also sets regulations for the sale, growth, and purchase of the plant.
The government also proposed new legislation governing impaired driving that would make it illegal to drive within two hours if an illegal level of drugs is found in the blood.
The bill does not include any information on how pot will be priced or taxed, as much of that will be left to the provinces. The bill does say, however, that it would be against the law to sell cannabis in a package, or with a label, that could be interpreted as being appealing to children and youth. Some have argued that the timeline of legalisation by mid-2018 is overly ambitious, suggesting that 2019 is a more likely date.
Experts have predicted that after legalising marijuana, the industry would be worth C$5bn to C$7bn annually. The Globe and Mail wrote that the federal government will need additional staff and resources to "speed up the approval process" for new producers looking to come online.
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Others worry that legalisation will put Canada on a collision path with Donald Trump's administration south of the border. Uruguay is the only other country in the world that allows recreational use of marijuana.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was asked that question - whether the Liberal government had sought assurances from the USA that someone who admitted to using cannabis legally would not face the same fate.
With that in mind, here's a look at some of the rules surrounding legalizing marijuana in Canada-and if the USA will be the next to do so.
In the United States, seven states allow recreational use of marijuana.
"I want to highlight", Goodale said, "that under the proposed act, it will remain illegal to import into Canada or export from Canada, cannabis and cannabis products- unless exceptionally authorized by Health Canada".
Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale defended the legalization, saying current laws have been "an abject failure" at keeping minors from using marijuana and organized crime from profiting. "Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world".
In short, he said: "We simply have to do better". According to one estimate, Canada's legal-marijuana market could be worth almost $5 billion by 2019.
The broad outlines of the government's plans to lift the 94-year-old prohibition against the recreational use of marijuana have been in the public domain for weeks.
"This must be an orderly transition; it is not a free for all".