Canada is on its way to becoming the second country to legalize recreational cannabis in the world, this official step will take place on July 2018, Canada follows Uruguay, the first country to fully legalize recreational cannabis use and The Netherlands, where cannabis is generally tolerated, but not legal. The supporters behind the bills say this is necessary step towards reducing adolescent drug use, and keeping money out of the black market.

The set of proposed bills includes the following:

  • Minimum age to purchase/ingest cannabis is 18 (left up to the province to decide) which is lower than the drinking age of 19 in several provinces.
  • Possession up to 30 grams of cannabis
  • Allowed to grow a maximum of 4 plants per household
  • New penalties for those driving under the influence of cannabis
  • Exporting cannabis will remain a serious criminal offense
  • Rules on retail sales and details of implementation will be left to provinces
  • In provinces that decline to set up a commercial framework, customers are able to order cannabis online from a federally licensed producer
  • Packaging on cannabis products is prohibited to appeal towards young people

The set of proposed bills contain vague language in the following:

  • Details about the penalties that will be created if one doesn’t abide by the law
  • What this means for edibles
  • The price for cannabis
  • How cannabis will be taxed
  • How advertising and packaging restrictions will look
  • Provinces, equivalent to US states, will be left to set up commercial framework

The Canadian government will license vendors, but leave the matter of how cannabis is distributed and the price, up to each individual province and territory. If a province fails to create a system for the sale and distribution of cannabis, the government can set it up for them. Leaving this up to the provinces can create confusion and difficulty running a business. If the cannabis business is operating legally under the federal government, they could still potentially be operating illegally in their individual province. Similar to the US, some legal dispensaries located in states where recreational/medicinal cannabis is legal are having to do business in all cash because they are unable to open a business bank accounts due to being viewed as criminal enterprises under federal law.

National legalization in Canada would create a bigger marketplace for cannabis business to start and operate, which would give Canadian businesses a competitive edge over the United States as stated in the following quote,

“With legalization in a growing number of our own states and now an entire major neighboring country ending prohibition, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for drug warriors in the Trump administration to meaningfully roll back our gains,” said member of pro-legalization group, Marijuana Majority, Tom Angell.

Critics of the bill believe that this is giving cannabis the “government’s seal of approval” for younger kids, but others argue that this plan actually will strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis for kids.

Canada’s decision will be good catalyst to start the movement to get cannabis legalized worldwide. There is still a lot more to do in general with efforts to regulating cannabis which includes using specific verbiage on how the policies will regulate cannabis, but that is one of the many things that will be addressed in the future. Hopefully Canada’s move to legalization will produce a positive influence on the United States’ stance on the matter.

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