Canada’s Senate passed the federal government’s legal weed bill on Tuesday night. This was the last legislative hurdle in the country’s years-long process to legalize recreational cannabis. Justin Trudeau ending months of speculation surrounding when Canadians will be able to purchase and consume the drug legally. Liberals had initially aimed for July 1, Canada Day, but procedural issues prevented them from reaching that target.
What To Expect
Technically recreational marijuana is not legal yet but will be very soon. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001. With the Cannabis Act it’s just a matter of weeks until cannabis is officially legal for purchase.
Adults over the age of 18 are allowed to purchase marijuana. They are also allowed to possess up to 30 grams for personal consumption. No decision has been made on edible marijuana as of yet, unfortunately. Although amendments included in recent Senate debates ensure that the federal government will have the ability to address edible regulation in the future.
Similarly, there are harsh laws regulating the sale of cannabis to minors. Those found guilty of selling cannabis to underage users could face up to 14 years in jail.
It’s worth pointing out that there’s still quite a bit of legislation to be resolved. In particular, legislation that would grant law enforcement additional authority to conduct impaired driving tests is yet to be passed.
Packaging will be plain, and oils, seeds, and fresh/dried marijuana will be widely available. Edibles are expected to be the most popular products once introduced.
Put plainly, the demand outlook is total guesswork at this point given that no developed country has ever legalized marijuana before. A number of early reports called for annual demand in the neighborhood of 800,000 kilograms of cannabis. However, a more recent estimate from Health Canada suggests Canadians could purchase 1 million kilograms of cannabis on an annual run-rate basis.
There are still a number of lingering questions regarding the bill. One is surrounding both home-grown marijuana and drug-impaired driving.
Bill C-46, which was tabled at the same time as the main pot legislation, includes new powers for police and harsher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The Senate took exception to allowing police to force drivers to submit to random roadside tests that can detect the active ingredient in marijuana without any reasonable suspicion of impairment.
Police across Canada are still waiting for approval from Ottawa for devices that can be used to actually carry out the screening.