Canadian Legislature Passes “Historic” Cannabis Act
In a move long-supported by President Trudeau and the Liberal Party, Canada has become the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Canadian Ministers all agreed that passage of The Cannabis Act will keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and increase the health and safety of cannabis consumption health by displacing the illegal market and giving Canadians access to quality-controlled products.
Although initially suspected of going into effect in 8-12 weeks, President Trudeau has now announced the new laws will not go into effect until October 17th, in 17 weeks. The surprising delay came after three provinces approached the President asking for “more time to put their sales regimes in place.”
Recent regulations brought in by the federal government will permit different branding and packaging standards for cannabis than for tobacco. However, a national public opinion poll recently demonstrated that 87% of Canadians are opposed to this measure, and want same branded package regulations that are currently applied to cigarettes to be applied to cannabis. 62% said they “strongly favor” equal regulation standards.
Lawmakers are also considering imposing a generic packaging restriction for both tobacco and cannabis products. However, nearly two-thirds (64%) of the Canadian public rejects branding being taken away altogether for either. “Canadians understand that consistently and equally applying the current branding regime on these two products is not the same as imposing a generic package for all,” said Anne Kothawala, President of the National Convenience Stores Distributors Association of Canada. “As the legal distributors and sellers of these products, we and millions of Canadian consumers are deeply concerned that imposing this type of generic brand regimen will fuel and accelerate the growth of the illicit, criminal market.”
The Canadian Senate voted 52-29 (with two abstentions) in favor of passing Bill C-45 The Cannabis Acton June 19, 2018, “to provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.
“The objectives of the Act are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.”
The Act was officially signed into law Thursday June 21st, when Governor General Payette gave her Royal Assent to the bill of law.The website of the Government of Canada summarizes the resulting changes in Canadian law:
Following the Oct. 17th date, adults over the age of 18 or 19 (depending on the province) will be allowed to possess or share up to 30 grams of cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form. The Act allows for growing up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use, and make cannabis-containing products such as food and drinks at home, provided that dangerous organic solvents are not used in the process.
Local jurisdictions will also be granted authority to designate locations for cannabis consumption, essentially authorizing the creation of cannabis coffeeshopssimilar to Amsterdam. Travelers will be able to enjoy the benefits of recreational legalizations while they visit. However, it will remain illegal once the Cannabis Act has come into force for travelers to take cannabis out of Canada, or to bring cannabis with them from other countries.
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
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2018
Legalizing cannabis fulfills one of the pre-election platforms on which President Trudeau and the Liberal Party ran during the 2015 presidential election. Once in office, the Liberal Government of Canada launched the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. Following extensive consultation with Canadians, provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous communities, the Task Force presented recommendations, which have served as the foundation for the Government’s legislative work.
In April 2017, the Government introduced Bill C-45 with the goals of keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth and keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime. The House of Commons approved the passage of 33 proposed amendments to the Act on June 18, after debate back and forth between the House of Commons and the Senate