What to expect from the Liberals' marijuana bill

On April 13, the Canadian federal government finally announced its much anticipated bill to legalize recreational use of cannabis by July 2018.

The federal government has stipulated that buyers must be at least 18 years old, but provinces will be able to set a higher age limit if they wish.

“Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities, ” said Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice and a former Toronto police chief and one of the architects of the law, at a press conference. "We're going to change that", Mr Trudeau said.

Adults over 18 would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.

Under the Cannabis Act, Canadians would be able to buy marijuana at legal retail outlets or receive them through a licensed producer in the mail.

Trudeau's government ensured that selling cannabis to a minor would be a criminal offense and that there would be a "zero-tolerance approach" to drug impaired driving. A new framework will be introduced to regulate the production, sale, distribution and possession of marijuana. Canada's 10 provinces and three territories have the authority to increase, but not decrease, the minimum age for use and impose additional requirements for personal cultivation.

The government promised to be similarly severe with drugged drivers. While eight states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational marijuana here, it remains illegal at the federal level. The provinces also will decide how the drug will be sold and distributed. The marijuana task force led by former Liberal justice minister Anne McLellan had acknowledged provinces and territories would likely harmonize it with the age limit they now have in place for alcohol and tobacco.

The Government of Canada officially introduced legislation to legalize and regulate and restrict access to cannabis on Thursday.

Canada has taken a major step toward legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

"We are reviewing the proposed legislation and attempting to understand the impacts around policing, which will include training, enforcement, implications of impaired operation by drug and some implications that likely haven't even been contemplated yet", Rodd said. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”.

In a report released on Tuesday, the CD Howe Institute warned that if the cost is too high, it would do little to undercut the illicit market, but if it is too low, it could encourage consumption and fail to generate significant government revenue.

If authorized as planned, proponents say the bill will be a blessing for the almost one-third of young adults in Canada who admit smoking weed and subsequently risk arrest in the face the federal government's current prohibition. "This needs to be an orderly transition", he said.

  • Leroy Wright