The Liberal Canadian government on Thursday revealed its proposal to nationally legalize and regulate recreational marijuana by July 2018.
Supporters if the bold plan said that it is designed to cripple the illicit market and to keep drugs out of the hands of Canada’s youth.
“Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities,” said Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the Justice Minister and a driving force in the legislation. “As a former police officer, I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis. Today’s plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it,” Blair added.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s public safety minister, also spoke in favor of the plan. “Police forces spend between 2 and 3 billion dollars every year trying to deal with cannabis, yet Canadian teens are among the heaviest users in the Western world. Criminals pocket 7 to 8 billion dollars in proceeds.”
Canada becomes the first G7 nation to move toward recreational legalization, thumbing its nose at treaty agreements currently in place with other nations, including the U.S.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made cannabis legalization a major pillar of his platform during successful 2015 campaign. But the issue has become bipartisan across Canada — even concept has received support among some members of the Conservative Party.
Here is what you need to know about the legislation, titled An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts:
When can I got to Canada to buy and consume cannabis?
The Government intends to bring the proposed legislation into force no later than July 2018. July 1st is Canada Day, a a federal holiday marking the official birth of the nation and many reports suggest that is the target date. But there will likely be negotiations to iron out the regulatory details, which could delay the process.
What is the age requirement?
The proposal sets the minimum age to purchase and consume marijuana at 18. The drinking age in most Canadian provinces is 19. But each province will be able to set its own age limit, similar to the nation’s alcohol laws.
In the U.S., of course, the legal age for consuming alcohol and cannabis is 21. Will this encourage Americans between the ages of 18 and 21 to vacation in Canada? Perhaps. Many college-aged students visit Mexico and other countries to take advantage of more permissive drinking laws. But …
Can I bring back cannabis back into the U.S.?
Um, no. Don’t even try. Marijuana is still federally illegal in the U.S. and the borders are patrolled by federal agents. And Canada’s plan specifically states that the movement of cannabis and cannabis products across international borders would remain a serious criminal offence.
How much can I purchase and where?
The law provides adults to legally possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public. (An ounce of marijuana is about 28 grams.) Each province will be set up their own retail system. It is not clear how the retail experience will develop, but most experts suggest it will be similar to the stores in Colorado, Washington and other legal jurisdictions in the U.S.
Canadian adults will be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer with secure home delivery through the mail or by courier.
Can Canadians grow their own?
Yes. According to the proposal, Canadians are allowed to grow up to four plants per household at a maximum height of one meter (about 3 feet) from a legal seed or seedling.
Is this the first nation to legalize?
Canada the second country in the world to allow for full recreational legalization. Uruguay was the first. Netherlands has been a marijuana-friendly nation, but has never officially legalized the herb.