Canadian lawmakers have given final approval to ending a nearly hundred year ban on marijuana, and use of the plant is expected to be fully legal in eight to 12 weeks.
Canada’s Senate voted to pass the bill legalizing non-medical use of cannabis, which was being pushed by the federal government, on a 52-29 vote with two senators abstaining.
“We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada,” Senate bill sponsor told Tony Dean told the CBC. “The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government.”
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
“Now we can start to tackle some of the harms of cannabis,’’ Dean said, according to the New York Times. “We can start to be proactive in public education. We’ll see the end of criminalization and we can start addressing Canada’s $7 billion illegal market.”
The government will miss an earlier sought deadline of July 1 for having cannabis available legally, but officials said it would likely be fully legal in two or three months. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet will set the final date for when the new regulations governing the use of marijuana will take effect.
“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits,” Trudeau, a major backer of the idea, said in a Tweet. “Today, we change that.”
While the government and Trudeau pushed for the change, polls showed Canadians were divided on the issue.
Opponents were disappointed not only that Canada has legalized marijuana – they’ve known for more than a year that the number of supporters was high enough that it was going to happen – but that lawmakers rejected efforts to put measures in law giving provinces some ability to opt out of some aspects of it, and rejected efforts to put more extensive regulations in place aimed at adding controls on the industry.
“There’s nothing in this bill that indicates to me that we’re tackling the problem, which is increased marijuana use among young people,” Sen. Leo Housakos, told the CBC.
“Legal marijuana use means more marijuana use, and more marijuana use means above all more teen marijuana use.” https://t.co/myr2YEMTWq
— Senator Linda Frum (@LindaFrum) June 20, 2018
With the vote, Canada becomes the first major economy in the world where cannabis use for recreational, or non-medical, purposes will be legal. Uruguay is the only other nation where marijuana is legal nationwide.
While some details remain to be worked out, the new law calls for limits on advertising and packaging, which can’t be decorated. It also will carry health warnings.
Edible marijuana continues to be illegal, at least for now.
The Canadian government will license growers, but the provinces will have some say on the rules for how cannabis will be sold to the public. There will be a minimum age of at least 18, but provinces can also set the age at 19.