BFF-02 Canada Senate passes law legalizing recreational marijuana

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Canada Senate passes law legalizing recreational marijuana

OTTAWA, June 8, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Canada’s Senate passed a law Thursday
legalizing recreational marijuana, moving it closer to becoming the first
member of the Group of Seven nations to legalize the production, sale and
consumption of the drug.

Bill C-45, or the Cannabis Act, passed the Senate with 52 votes for, 30
against and one abstention after months of debate over the ramifications of
legalization.

The Cannabis Act will now go back to the House of Commons, which passed the
bill in November 2017 but needs to sign off on changes made by the Senate.

Legalizing weed was a 2015 campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau, who has admitted having smoked a joint with friends “five or six
times.”

The initial timeline for legal pot sales called for it to be available by
July 1, Canada’s national day, but August or September now appears more
likely.

It would then be up to Canada’s provinces and territories to set up
distribution networks and enforcement.

The sale of medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001.

Bill C-45 would allow individuals over the age of 18 to possess up to 30
grams of marijuana for personal use.

Sales to anyone under 18 would be banned under federal law but provinces
and territories could set their own age limits.

Statistics Canada has estimated that the market will be worth Can$5.7
billion ($4.5 billion US), based on last year’s consumption data.

Uruguay approved the recreational usage of marijuana five years ago and
nine US states have too but Canada will be the first G-7 country to do so.

– ‘Canada is being daring’ –

In an interview with AFP last month, Trudeau said the world is closely
following Canada’s plans and predicted several nations would follow suit.

“There is a lot of interest from our allies in what we’re doing,” he said.

“They recognize that Canada is being daring… and recognize that the
current regime (of prohibition) does not work, that it’s not preventing young
people from having easy access to cannabis.

“In many countries, especially in Canada, it is easier (as a minor) to buy
a joint than buy a beer,” Trudeau said. “Organized crime is making huge sums
of money on the illicit sale of marijuana.”

Trudeau insisted that creating a regulated market would take it out of the
hands of crime groups and “better protect communities and children.”

However, he added the allies he spoke with “are interested in seeing how
things go… before they try it,” without specifying which nations.

It would also allow the federal government and the provinces to levy taxes
on legal weed sales amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Pot sales would be through authorized retail stores much like the current
situation regulating alcohol sales in Quebec and Ontario.

A total of 105 businesses have been authorized to grow marijuana and offer
pot-based products. Under the new law, individuals could grow up to four
plants at home.

The government has also set aside funds to study the impact of legalized
cannabis consumption on public health.

BSS/AFP/MRI/0834 hrs