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On Tuesday, June 19th, 2018, Canadian Senators made global history by passing a law that made Canada the first G7 nation to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis. After Representatives passed C-45, also called the Cannabis Act, the Senate also needed to approve the new law. Some activists worried that changes to the Act could result in further delays for Canada’s legalization process, but their worries were unnecessary.
52 Canadian Senators voted for the bill, while 29 voted against it and two abstained from voting, with votes falling perfectly along party lines. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced via Twitter his intention to have legal sales programs created and implemented by October 17, 2018. While that is later than the initial date politicians were pushing for, it still means that in less than four months, many parts of Canada will have a legal, regulated cannabis market.
There’s no question that there are serious flaws with this new law. The need for lawmakers to come up with a plan for regulation and recreational sales in only a few weeks is one of them. There are still penalties for those who break Canadian cannabis laws.
There is also concern about the potential for corporate entities to quickly enter and dominate the domestic Canadian cannabis industry, leaving long-term craft providers and cannabis artisans struggling to compete. However, with all its shortcomings, C-45 is still a landmark piece of legislation that will hopefully influence other countries to follow suit.
Once the law takes effect in October, adults (of varying ages depending on the province) can legally purchase cannabis, cannabis oils and extracts, live cannabis plants and seeds, and cannabis-infused foods. Each consumer will have the right to possess as much as 30 grams of dried cannabis in public and share the same amount with other adults. Each adult can grow up to four cannabis plants at home, although the household limit is also four, so roommates and spouses can’t all grow together.
There are many serious issues facing our world today, from increasing rates of suicide among young people to stagnant income and opportunities for the shrinking middle class. Cannabis legalization could do a lot to address such issues, as well as problems with law enforcement corruption, policing for profit and the incarceration of non-violent offenders overloading the criminal justice system.
While there is certainly room for improvement in the language of C-45, it is still an incredible step forward for Canada and for the cannabis movement worldwide. As lawmakers begin sorting out what legalized cannabis will look like in Canada, the world will be watching. Here’s hoping that Canadian policies on cannabis will become firmly rooted in compassion.
For previous Ladybud articles about legalization, click here.
Photo Credit: Danny Birchall under CC BY 2.0