Canada Introduces a Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
The Canadian government's movement toward legalized recreational marijuana will have major implications in American border cities like Buffalo, where Western New Yorkers would theoretically be free to cross the border to buy and use the drug at Ontario's discretion.
The outlet points out that the details of the bill could change as the bill works its way through Parliament, adding that if the legislation passes, it could be illegal under worldwide law, which still favors prohibition.
The bill would make Canada the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to fully legalize recreational marijuana use.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moved on April 13 to introduce a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use and sales in all Canadian provinces.
The legislation also imposes tough new penalties of up to 14 years in prison for people giving or selling marijuana to children.
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. "Additionally, the proposed legislation would authorize new tools for police to better detect drivers who have drugs in their body", reads the press release. People will also be permitted to grow up to four plants at home.
Despite introduction of the legislation, there remains a lot to be done before the legal regime comes into place.
Health minister Jane Philpott said: "The Cannabis Act will help keep our children safe and address the health risks associated with cannabis". "This will not be a free-for-all".
However, strict guidelines will be set on how marijuana can be marketed, as the government is now deciding whether producers should be required to use plain packaging, with endorsements banned and child-proof packaging required.
Advertising requirements in the bill are not as strict as expected, said Eileen McMahon, chair of intellectual property and food and drug regulatory practices at Torys law firm.
Although the government has unveiled plans to legalise recreational marijuana, the rule won't become legal overnight. Shares of marijuana producers like Canopy Growth Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. have surged more than fourfold over the past 12 months despite warnings that the legislative process could drag on. "To that end, we look forward to working with the government to ensure that branding allowances properly balance informing consumers while not appealing to those under the age of 18".
Although public opinion is generally supportive of cannabis legalization, Canada's medical profession has expressed concern about the dangers posed by setting too low a minimum legal age. However, the Canadian Medical Association urged Ottawa to set the limit at 21, with restrictions on potency and quantity on anyone under 25 years old. About 30% of people aged 20-24 use cannabis.