Canada soon will become the second country in the world to legalize Marijuana. On Tuesday Canadian Senate passed the Federal Government’s bill to legalize cannabis, though it will take some months to implement.
PM Justin Trudeau’s plan was to make pot legal by July 1, but the provincial and territorial governments needed 8-12 weeks followed by the Senate passage and royal assent to prepare for retail sales. By early or mid-September, the legalization process will be completed.
Trudeau through his tweet said,“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”.
Canada follows Uruguay in allowing a nationwide, legal marijuana market. Each Canadian province will work up its own rules for the sale of cannabis.
The bill had been passed in the Senate by a vote of 52-29
Independent Senator Tony Dean considered the bill as ‘historic’.He hoped the bill would bring an end to ’90 years of prohibition of cannabis in the country,90 years of needless criminalization, 90 years of a just-say-no approach to drugs that haven’t worked’.
With the passage of this bill, Canada became the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on Marijuana use. In the US, Canada’s neighbour, nine states and the District of Columbia had legalized marijuana. In January, California in America launched the US’s biggest legal marijuana marketplace.
Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson and Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor welcomed the bill. When Jody termed the passage of the bill as a ‘historic milestone’, Ginette considered it as a ‘sensible, responsible and equitable cannabis policy’.
The Bill had been formulated largely on the advice of Marijuana Task Force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan as well as former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is currently the parliamentary secretary to the Justice Minister.
The Task Force recommendation was to allow adults to carry up to 30 grams of pot and also allowed to grow up to 4 plants. The recommendation also prohibited the sales of marijuana in the same place where alcohol and tobacco are sold.
The minimum age for cannabis use as per the new legislation will be 18 or 19, depending on the province. The advocates of this legalisation argue that putting the age limit at 21 will encourage black market and drive youth into the hands of criminals. The proposed minimum age is lower than prescribed by the US for legal cannabis use.
Health Experts warned that use of cannabis at a lower age might have long-term sequences on still-maturing brains.
Conservative senators staunchly opposed the bill. Leo Housakos, a conservative legislator said that the proposed bill would lead to the corporatisation of illegal marijuana peddlers. He also warned that making pot use legal might lure more young people to use it as their minds would be shed of all the reservations towards an illegal thing.