Legalizing Marijuana Takes Shape in Canada-is the US Next?

PoliticsHere is Canada’s Full Legalization Bill Randi Druzin

Canada on Thursday released a plan to legalize recreational marijuana use across the country by July 2018. In an effort to keep cannabis away from youth and its profits from criminals, it would also set the legal minimum age for purchasing pot at 18, according to federal officials.

The legislation's intention is to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to pot, said Liberal MP Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and the government's point man on the legalized-marijuana file. The Globe and Mail wrote that the federal government will need additional staff and resources to "speed up the approval process" for new producers looking to come online.

The new law actually has two components - to regulate recreational use and sales of the drug, and to beef up impaired driving laws for those driving under the influence of cannabis.

People would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams, or just more than an ounce, of marijuana for personal use, similar to the 1-ounce standard in USA states where marijuana use is legal.

Only cannabis grown by a federally licensed producer would be available for sale, though Canadians could grow up to four plants at home.

The government is intending the proposed legislation to also prevent profits from the production and sale of cannabis from going into the pockets of criminal organizations and street gangs.

Since the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals have couched their push to legalize pot in a counterintuitive message: that it is the single best way to keep the drug out of the hands of impressionable and still-developing children. Government needs to ensure that legislation is inclusive and allows small craft cannabis producers and retailers to participate in the regulated market.

Zandberg says he views the recommendations, which include setting the national minimum age at 18, but give the right to province to harmonize it with alcohol age minimums, allow provinces to determine distribution but allow mail order nationally, and restrict advertising and promotion in a way that is similar to tobacco, are generally favorable.

When that takes effect, Canada would be the first G7 nation to make marijuana legal.

As Ottawa works toward squeezing out illegal producers of marijuana, federal officials are anxious that a shortage of cannabis would hurt their plans in the initial stages of legalization. "The Cannabis Act reflects an evidence-based approach that will protect Canadians' public health and safety".

Shares of marijuana producers were trading lower following the announcement, though the stocks have seen a run-up in anticipation of legalization.Canopy Growth Corp (WEED.TO) fell 3.8 percent to C$9.92, though the stock has more than tripled in the past year.

Goodale said they've been close touch with the USA government on the proposed law and noted exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal.

"The laws of the United States are the responsibilities of the United States". Minister of Health Jane Philpott went on to say that there will be differences provincially.

"Our system will actually be better", he said. For instance, advertisers will not be allowed to market pot directly to youths in the same way that tobacco can not use youthful themes.

But a government-appointed task force has concluded that the "current science is not definitive on a safe age for cannabis use".

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