Justin Trudeau has introduced a bill to Canada’s parliament that would legalize recreational marijuana as early as July of 2018. Canada’s Cannabis Act will need to be approved by parliament before it could move forward. If the bill is approved, Canada will be the second nation in the world to completely legalize cannabis, the only other being Uruguay.
According to Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the ministry of justice, the legislation, "seeks to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis, and it will make Canada safer.” The act will also encompass many different aspects of creating a legal recreational system within the country.
The Cannabis Act establishes full government control over the marijuana industry, which is a large component of removing the current control of recreational marijuana from the hands of illegal entities. A new system will need to be created to regulate production, sales, and distribution of cannabis. There will also be a new system for taxes to be collected on marijuana, much like in states with recreational cannabis in the United States.
Provinces will be able to establish their own regulations beyond what is determined by the national government. Provinces, for example, could levy additional taxes or implement a higher legal age of consumption. One major component of keeping government control over the recreational cannabis industry will be harsh laws against people who try to sell cannabis outside of the government established system, particularly to minors. Any person who sells cannabis to a minor under the proposed law could receive up to fourteen years in jail.
Recreational cannabis under the Cannabis Act will be available to all adults over the age of 18, except if a province decides on a higher age of consumption. Each person could have 30 grams of cannabis on their person, as well as grow up to four plants per household. Consumers may also buy cannabis at dispensaries. The goal of the law is to keep cannabis out of the hands of minors and lawmakers believe they could do so by regulating cannabis much like alcohol. Ralph Goodale, the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, explains that the act will be a great improvement on the current situation, "If your objective is to protect public health and safety, and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors and stop the flow of illegal profits to organized crime, the law as it stands today, has been an abject failure.”
There are some issues that Canada will face that are very familiar to ones being faced by states like California and Colorado. Driving under the influence of cannabis is an issue that will have to be addressed, but the Cannabis Act already outlines that no one will be able to drive less that two hours after consuming an intoxicating amount of cannabis. The current plan for law enforcement also outlines the use of saliva tests to determine if people are under the influence while driving, though they have not determined an “allowable” level yet.
In the first phase of the rollout edibles will not be legal, however edibles are expected to be allowed in a second stage of legalization. There will also be a strict no border crossing law with cannabis. Even if a person is traveling from Canada to a cannabis legal state in the Untied States, or vise versa, they could still be prosecuted for drug smuggling if they attempt to cross the border with cannabis on their person.
The idea of recreational cannabis legalization is not new to Trudeau’s platform. The Canadian prime minister originally introduced the idea on the campaign trail and has clearly stated that he believes that cannabis legalization would serve to reduce crime and decrease access for minors. Canada already has already legalized medical cannabis, and as a result the general population is relatively aware of and educated when it comes to cannabis consumtpion. If recreational cannabis is legalized in Canada, it could have implications for the United States, as people question the future of the industry on a national level with the Trump administration in power.