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Canada Marijuana Legalization Bill Clears Critical Hurdle



A bill to to legalize marijuana in Canada passed a crucial step on Thursday, with the Senate approving the legislation at third reading. If ultimately implemented, Canada would become the first G7 nation to fully legalize cannabis.

The bill, C-45, represents a key campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party—and it was sponsored by Independent Senator Tony Dean. The bill passed the traditionally conservative Senate 56-30, with one abstention.

Dean said he “would rather not let those harms [of prohibition] continue both on the social side and the health side,” in a closing statement. “I would like to join other jurisdictions—like those in the U.S.—that have seen signification diversion” of marijuana from the black market to a regulated system.

The vote took place one day after the prime minister announced the appointment of two Independent senators to vacant seats, sworn in hours before the vote, which some saw as an effort to ensure the legalization bill passed.

What’s next?

Because the Senate also approved almost 50 amendments throughout the debate process—including one that would let individual provinces prohibit home-grown cannabis and another to limit cannabis companies’ ability to use products like t-shirts and hats to advertise their brands—the legislation must first go back to the House of Commons. Should the House accept the amended language of the bill, legalization would “technically” be the law of the land, CTV News reported.

The reason for that technical stipulation is that the government estimates that it will take as many as 12 weeks before the retail sales system is implemented. The bill must also be approved by “Royal Assent,” which is generally a formality where a representative of the Canadian monarchy sanctions the legislation.

A technical amendment approved during the third reading on Thursday would require a committee review of the legislation five years after implementation.

What C-45 would accomplish

The bill would legalize the sale, use, possession, and limited cultivation of marijuana for adults 18 and older. Under the legislation, the government would create a regulatory system designed to reduce youth marijuana use and imposes taxes on retail sales, among other responsibilities.

Sessions Talks Marijuana With Anti-Legalization Canadian Senators

Photo courtesy of Christopher Policarpio.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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