For over a year now, Canada has been working towards the goal of legalizing cannabis throughout the country for adult use and sale. This move came with the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, who promised during his campaign that legalization was on his agenda.
About a year ago, the Canadian government’s legalization task force turned in their recommendations on how to go about regulating marijuana. Earlier this year, ‘The Cannabis Act’, or Bill C-45, was introduced with the goal of repealing cannabis prohibition and allowing adults 18 and older to purchase the herb from a licensed dispensary.
This week, the Canada House of Commons passed a bill to legalize cannabis with a 200-82 vote – turning the bill over to the Senate next for approval.
The bill gives individual provinces the right to determine the legal age for consumption – which means it may vary from province to province even though the federally legal age will be 18. The Cannabis Act also allows individuals to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at any time, and allows them to grow up to four plants.
It allows provinces and territories to determine where and how both cannabis oils and dried flowers can be sold in their own jurisdiction – but it does not allow for edibles like brownies, cookies, candies or drinks to be sold. It is expected that the law will be revised to include edibles within a year or so.
Issues like taxes will also be determined by each individual province – but on a federal level there is expected to be an excise tax of $1 per gram of cannabis on sales up to $10. For sales over $10, there will be a 10 percent tax.
“The Senate will bring its sober reflection to this bill and I think it’s really important to help us get this right,” Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair told CTV earlier this month. “But we also expect to work as diligently as everyone else in the country has and in recognition that delay is unacceptable.”
Changes made to the bill so far include removing a cap on height for home-grown plants, which previously would have been allowed to be no taller than 100 centimeters. The addition of creating regulations for edibles within one year was also added by the House of Commons, as was an agreement to review the bill three years after implementation.
Overall, the changes were minor, and will not change much from the original bill – whether the Senate changes will be as few and far between we will have to wait and see. For the time being, Canadians can be happy to know their government is working diligently to end cannabis prohibition for their entire country.