If the legislation passes, possession of small amounts of pot will be legal throughout the country on July 1, 2018.
Following on the heels of California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada deciding to legalize the use of recreational marijuana last November, the Canadian government has just introduced legislation to legalize the herb for recreational use.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, but if this bill passes, it will be acceptable for citizens and tourists to possess small amounts of pot throughout the country beginning July 1, 2017. According to USA Today, The minimum age to use recreational marijuana has been set to 18, but each province will determine if it should be higher. Reportedly, each province will also outline how the drug will be sold and distributed.
If the legislation passes, the measure would legalize possession of up to 30 grams of certain marijuana products. Harsher penalties would also be placed on selling pot to minors, and for driving while under the influence. Households will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants, but there is a presumption that most users will be supplied by commercial growers, who will be licensed and closely supervised by the federal government.
Many Americans already desire to flock to Canada to escape the present political climate, but officials say legalizing cannabis in the northern country could create more of a headache for border control. James Phillips, CEO of the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance, stated that bringing marijuana products across the border is likely to result in confusion for citizens of both countries. Americans desiring to cross back into the U.S. may still be under the influence, and Canadians who enter the U.S. unknowingly in possession of cannabis put themselves at risk.
“If you add 10 or 15 seconds to every car inspection on average at the border, you’re going to back up the cars a significant amount of distance,” Phillips commented.
The Canadian Public Safety minister, Ralph Goodale, defended the legislation, however. He says current laws have been an utter failure from keeping minors from using the herb and organized crime from profiting. It’s for this reason, he argues, it needs to be decriminalized. Bill Blair, a lawmaker and former Toronto police chief whom Mr. Trudeau appointed to manage the legislation, echoed Goodale’s sentiments. “Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities,” said Blair.
The New York Times shares that because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party backs legalization, and members hold a majority of seats in the Canadian Parliament, the passage is all but assured.
It is pertinent to note that the legislation would put Canada in violation of three United Nations treating concerning drugs. However, the issues will cease if the government can justify the measure under exemptions for “scientific purposes.”
If the law is passed, it is likely crime rates in Canada will decline, as tens of thousands of marijuana users are presently arrested for possession every year. The Liberal Party makes this argument when proclaiming:
“Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.”
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