Canada to be First G7 Nation That Makes Recreational Cannabis Legal
Canada has taken a key step towards legalizing recreational marijuana after senators voted in favor of new legislation permitting nationwide use of the drug.
The upper chamber Senate voted 56 to 30 in favor of new rules on Thursday, but also included amendments to the House of Commons will need to decide on before the law can be passed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party pledged to legalize recreational use of marijuana during their successful 2015 general election campaign.
While there is not yet a defined date when the drug will go on sale, clearing the Senate appeared to be the last serious hurdle for the bill, with a number of Conservative senators opposing legalization
The vote on Thursday sends the bill back to the House of Commons, where members of Parliament will decide whether to accept the dozens of amendments added to the legislation by the Senate.
The vote had been expected to be close, and the Trudeau government moved on Wednesday to shore up support by assuring indigenous senators it would address significant concerns they had with bill.
That included committing more resources to mental health and addiction services for indigenous people in Canada.
Canada’s Cannabis Industry Is Set for Massive Take Off
Canadians will still have to wait up to 12 weeks after the bill finally becomes law before they can purchase recreational cannabis.
Various estimates suggest Canadians will be able to legally buy cannabis by late August or early September.
Canadians, especially the young, are among the world’s heaviest marijuana users.
Ottawa says legal pot under a new strict regulation regime will make it easier to keep it away from young people, to deprive organised crime of drug money, to reduce the burden on police and the justice system, and to improve public health.
A big reason is that marijuana is no longer being viewed as just a taboo narcotic. In a 2016 paper by Deloitte, titled “Recreational Marijuana Insights and Opportunities,” it found that the typical recreational marijuana consumer is not looking for a quick high but instead uses marijuana for medical needs such as a sleep aid or stress reducer:
Still, many belive that this won’t really stop the illegal purchases. Recreational consumers who don’t live near a legal store will be able to buy online. But many customers will turn to local outlets – legal or illegal – rather than wait for mail-order, said Miles Light, co-founder at the Marijuana Policy Group in Denver, Colorado.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police plans to add analysts to monitor organized crime in the cannabis industry after legalization and determine what enforcement resources are needed, said the RCMP’s Yves Goupil, a director of federal policing.
“If the black market can still operate profitably, there will need to be significant justice resources devoted to enforcement,” said Rosalie Wyonch, a policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute, a nonprofit economic policy think tank.
Canada has no plans to allow storefront access for medical marijuana despite a pharmacy-industry push to dispense it.