CANADA: Canada’s parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide.
The Cannabis Act, passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed, and sold.
“It ends 90 years of needless criminalisation, it ends a prohibition model that inhibited and discouraged public health and community health in favour of just-say-no approaches that simply failed young people miserably.“, senator Tony Dean told reporters on Tuesday after the vote to pass the Cannabis Act.
This legislation fulfils a 2015 campaign promise by Mr Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party.
“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana”, the Liberal Party declared on its campaign website. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”
The prime minister has argued that Canada’s nearly century-old laws criminalising use of the drug have been ineffective, given that Canadians are still among the world’s heaviest users.
Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September.
The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug’s recreational use after Uruguay legalised the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013. Canada has become the first wealthy nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana.
Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001.
The bill will likely receive Royal Assent this week, and the government will then choose an official date when the law will come into force.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that until now, “it’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits”.
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
In 2015, Canadians were estimated to have spent about C$6bn ($4.5bn, £3.4bn) on cannabis – almost as much as they did on wine.
What will remain illegal?
It will be illegal to possess over 30 grams of cannabis, grow more than four plants per household, and to buy from an unlicensed dealer. Someone caught selling the drug to a minor could be jailed for up to 14 years.
The new law has not been met with universal praise. Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said he was apprehensive it would normalise cannabis use and make it more accessible.
Leo Housakos, a Conservative senator from Quebec, tweeted to say that he thought the law would be “catastrophic for Canadian generations to come”.
Hope we are wrong on this piece of legislation. I think it will be catastrophic for Canadian generations to come. https://t.co/mUI4uZxOxN
— Senator Leo Housakos (@SenatorHousakos) June 20, 2018
“Sad day for Canada’s kids,” senator Linda Frum tweeted.
Sad day for Canada’s kids. https://t.co/y9CKJo7054
— Senator Linda Frum (@LindaFrum) June 19, 2018