After about seven months of legislative debate, Canadian lawmakers approved a bill to fully legalize marijuana nationwide on Tuesday.
Though the bill must still receive “royal assent” from the Governor General before the law is officially sanctioned, that step is generally viewed as a formality. At that point, Canada will become the first G7 nation to legalize recreational cannabis.
The decision in the Senate, which voted 52-29, with two abstentions, to approve the Cannabis Act, comes a week after the House of Commons approved 25 of the Senate’s amendments and rejected 13 others. About two weeks ago, the Senate gave initial approved the amended bill 56-30.
Some Conservative and Independent senators expressed reservations about the final bill, particularly the rejection of an amendment that would have given individual provinces the authority to ban home cultivation of cannabis.
A vote to amend the legislation with respect to the home grow issue, which would have sent the bill back to the House, was voted down, 35-45 with one abstention.
— Senate of Canada (@SenateCA) June 19, 2018
— Tony Dean (@TonyDean_TO) June 19, 2018
Other Senate amendments that were rejected by the House include a ban on marijuana companies distributing “branded merchandise” and a requirement to establish a national registry “for shareholders involved in marijuana companies,” CTV News reported.
In April, three Senate committees submitted reports outlining their concerns about the legalization bill and offering recommendations that included a proposed one-year delay to better consult with Indigenous peoples. However, the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee later redacted that recommendation.
But in spite of the concerns of some committees and lawmakers, the legislation cleared its last major hurdle.
It will still take a few months before Canada implements a retail cannabis sales system. Liberal MP Bill Blair, the Canadian government’s point person on parliamentary cannabis legalization efforts, estimated that, pending royal assent, marijuana will be fully legalized and available for purchase in September.
The federal point-man on #pot, Bill Blair, says that if the legislation to legalize #marijuana passes by the end of the week, the government will eye a September date to implement the new regime. https://t.co/Ck2Zrx9DSF
— EquityInsight (@EquityInsightCA) June 18, 2018
Following the vote, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that “[i]t’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits.”
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
“Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”
The Cannabis Act will legalize the possession, use, cultivation and sale of marijuana for adults 18 and older. Individuals would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants.
The bill also outlines criminal penalties for illegal distribution and sales of cannabis, crossing international borders with cannabis and possession over the legal limit.
Photo courtesy of Cannabis Culture.