In late June, Canada became the second country behind the South American country of Uruguay to legalize cannabis for recreational use at the federal level.
Known as the Cannabis Act, or Bill C-45, Canada is now the first G7 nation to implement federal legislation which makes this change a landmark event.
Come October 17th, 2018, cannabis will be legal to grow at home, sell to adults 18 years and older (19 in some providences) and to possess. Similar to the laws in California, adults can have an ounce of dried plant in their possession, but only allowed four plants in the home, as opposed to the six allowed by the State of California.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made cannabis legalization a major part of his campaign platform in 2015 so this was a major victory for him and the Liberal Party of Canada.
“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” the Liberal Party declared on its campaign website. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”
Although legalization is set for October 17th, national retails stores are slated to be open by September.
While many supporters of cannabis prohibition will say that legalized cannabis will only make the plant more available to children, The Cannabis Act was implemented as a means to keep cannabis out of the hands of children. Similar to proponents of legalization in the United States, many Canadians believe that eliminating the black market and making cannabis only obtainable through a regulated market with retail stores that check IDs will lead to a decrease in cannabis use among children and teens.
Trudeau Tweeted the following after the bill was passed:
“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”
Canada’s justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, echoed similar sentiments on Twitter about the bill:
"This is an historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada," she tweeted. "This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime."
Many project Mexico is close on Canada’s heels and will be the next major country to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has been a strong and vocal supporter of legalization and has traveled around the world speaking about the benefits of a regulated market.
We won’t have to wait long to see how things unfold for our neighbors up north. October is right around the corner and all eyes will be on Canada. We wish them luck and hope that there will be friendly competition between the US and Mexico for who will legalize next.
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