During the last few months, Canadians have felt the palpable anticipation hanging over the legalization of marijuana.
Cannabis lovers, growers, dispensary owners, and all others with with an interest in the expected end to prohibition have been anxiously awaiting the government’s official announcement to legislate and eventually legalize this long-suffering plant.
Today, that announcement finally arrived.
In a scheduled press conference, the federal government laid out the guidelines that will carry the nation forward into a new age of cannabis freedom.
Here are the details for legal marijuana in Canada:
First, anyone 18 or older will be permitted to possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana. Adults will also be allowed to grow four plants per household and each plant can be up to 100 cm (approx. 40 inches) in height. Those growing marijuana at home can also turn the buds into cannabis products such as food for personal use.
Taking any cannabis or its derivative products across international borders can result in a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. Further to that offense, two new penalties have been created. Those are giving or selling marijuana to minors, or using minors to commit a cannabis-related crime.
For the distribution and sale of marijuana, as predicted, the individual provinces and territories will oversee the logistics. Additionally, provinces and territories can modify the minimum age to a higher number if they see fit.
Thankfully, the timelines are still on track as well, with the announcement that new laws are expected to take hold no later than July 2018.
Drug-impaired driving will be heavily scrutinized under this new act, with police being authorized to conduct roadside saliva tests if they have reasonable suspicion that a driver has used cannabis. Those suspicions can be eye redness or the smell of pot for example. The legal limit has currently been set to 2.5 nanograms of THC per every milliliter of blood. First time offenders can get a $1,000 fine and license suspension for one year.
With Colorado as a likely example, Canada has not forgotten about the potential for cannabis tourism revenue. Visitors will not be allowed to bring bud or any product containing it back across the border of course, but won’t face any restrictions on the amount of pot they may consume while in Canada.
In an interesting twist, despite the fact that the task force recommended no co-location for the sale of pot — not selling cannabis products at locations that also sell alcohol — there have been no restrictions on this in the actual bill. This decision could be detrimental to dispensaries in places like Ontario, who seemingly favour the LCBO option.
If any province chooses to opt out entirely of selling marijuana, they have to do so, but the federal government can provide access online in those cases. Further to that point, if a province neglects to put a sales network in place, consumers will be permitted to purchase weed directly from a licensed producer.
Anyone who is under the age limit caught with marijuana can be prosecuted but won’t receive a criminal record if they have 5 grams or less in their possession.
Other details such as the level of taxation and the decision to sell marijuana in plain packaging will come at a later date. For cannabis advertising, it can only be informative and not lifestyle oriented.
Those are the main details of a historic moment in Canadian history. The Cannabis Act will move forward into Parliament, with access expected by the summer of 2018.
Looking at the timeline, it is incredible how far this legislation has come. What started out as a campaign promise, quickly turned into a potential reality once Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister on October 19, 2015.
Since, a task force of federal officials was put in place and extensive research on the cultivation, sale, legalities, and penalties was executed. The research was done both domestically and internationally, and during that period Canadians were invited to join the conversation.
Today, the culmination of all these efforts has materialized into a comprehensive legislation, that has finally been introduced into Parliament. That introduction has set the ball rolling on the world’s first G7 country to fully legalize adult-use marijuana.