Although Canada officially legalized recreational marijuana earlier this week, giving way to predictions that dispensaries would be selling marijuana by summer’s end, Prime Minister Justine Trudeau says he is delaying the implementation of legal sales until mid-October in order to give provinces sufficient time to get their regulatory affairs in order.
Just 24-hours after the Canadian Senate approved the final draft of the Cannabis Act (C-45), ending more than 90 years of cannabis prohibition in the Great What North, Trudeau told reporters that he was giving provinces more time to prepare for legalization by postponing the launch date until October 17. Putting on the brakes to some degree is intended to provide jurisdictions with a “smooth” transition when it comes to readying systems geared toward production and retail sales, according to the Globe and Mail.
The timeline for full legalization is a few months later than the government originally predicted. It was said most of last year that legal sales would pop off in the beginning of July 2018 – right around Canada Day. But Senate snags with C-45, along with the requests of provinces for more time to assemble their regulations have pushed everything back 17 weeks.
“This is something that we want to get right,” Trudeau said. “It is our expectation that—even though we recognize legalization of marijuana is a process, not a single-day event – by giving the provinces more time to ensure that they are fully ready for the day of coming into force of this legislation, it will be a smooth success in all the ways that we can hope for.”
While the law has been moved through legislative channels and is in the final phases of becoming an official entry on the books, marijuana possession is still a criminal offense in Canada. It is for this reason that Trudeau has no intention of initiating pardons for those convicted of pot-related crimes until the country’s new marijuana law is in full swing.
“There is no point looking at pardons while the old law is on the books,” he said. “Once the law comes into force, we will start looking at the issue of pardons and criminal records.”
Related Story: Canada Officially Legalizes Marijuana Like Alcohol
Canada is the second country in the world—the first of the G-7—to fully legalize marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco. Uruguay was the first to embrace this concept. The law gives adults 18 and older the freedom to possess up to 30 gram of weed in public and grow up to four plants at home for personal use. Anyone who breaks these laws, especially those who sell to minors, can face stiff penalties. Selling marijuana to an underage kids can get a person locked up in prison for up to 14 years.
So far, the United States has yet to respond to Canada’s historic move to make marijuana a part of legitimate commerce. It remains to be seen whether this policy shift by our northern neighbors will inspire the U.S. government to embrace similar legislation.