Canada introduces legislation to legalize marijuana

Violet Powell
April 19, 2017

Proposed legislation announced Thursday by the federal government to legalize recreational marijuana as early as next year comes with strengthened laws for offences. While cannabis is now considered contraband by the Department of Justice, 28 states and the nation's capital have approved laws letting adults use marijuana for recreational or medical reasons.

"Today's plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this", said Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

If approved, legislation would establish new rules letting Canadians legally buy, harvest and have limited amounts of government-controlled marijuana in addition to implementing measures meant to discourage individuals from skirting the proposed restrictions.

The legislation, once passed, would allow police to use what she called "oral fluid screening devices" to check for marijuana impairment, while also creating brand new driving offences for those caught driving while impaired by pot.

Individuals would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana for personal use, similar to the one-ounce standard in US states where marijuana use is legal.

Only cannabis grown by a federally licensed producer will be available for sale, though Canadians could grow up to four plants at home.

The long-standing prohibition on pot in Canada has been an "abject failure", with police forces spending upwards of $3 billion a year trying to stamp out cannabis use among some of the heaviest users in the western world, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Thats slightly lower than the drinking age limit of 19 in most provinces. "There are billions upon billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of organized crime, street gangs, and gunrunners. if we can get that out of the criminal elements and into a more regulated fashion, we will reduce the amount of criminal activity that's profiting from those".

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Williams said , "Currently, there are no other victims that we know of". "He'd pick up things off the street and fix them". An extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome, she said. "We are horrified.

"The current approach to cannabis does not work".

Marijuana legalization was a campaign promise of Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.

The government also hasn't said how it will tax the products, and it has delayed regulations on the sale of edible forms of cannabis until a later date. Cannabis dispensaries have already opened in many cities across Canada catering to the medical marijuana trade but pharmacies are also interested in getting part of the business. It will be left to Canadian provinces to decide how the drug will be distributed and sold.

The government is pitching the legislation as a way to keep pot out of the hands of minors and undercut organised crime.

Uruguay is the only other country in the world that allows recreational use of marijuana. Marijuana, of course, is still federally illegal under US law.

Under the law, it would be illegal to sell marijuana packaged or labelled in a way that could be construed as appealing to young people, to include testimonials or endorsements, or to depict a person, character or animal.

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