Published: Sat, April 15, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Federal legislation on legalizing marijuana unveiled

The Canadian government has taken steps to legalize recreational marijuana as part of a larger effort to decriminalize cannabis and "make Canada safer", Bill Blair, a former police chief shaping the legislation, said.

If approved, the legislation would establish new rules letting Canadians legally buy, harvest and have limited amounts of government-controlled marijuana in addition to implementing measures meant to discourage individuals from skirting the proposed restrictions.

"Today, we are following through on our commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis and to create new laws to punish more severely those who drive under its influence", said Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Adults would be allowed to produce legal cannabis products such as food or drinks, for personal use at home.

The Canadian government would create a system to regulate marijuana production, distribution, and sale. The 18 cannabis bills introduced today will impose "significant penalties" for anyone who breaks Canada's new marijuana rules. If the legislation passes, Canadians would be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018.

Licensed Canadian producers grow for the medical marijuana market but most are jockeying to enter the lucrative recreational retail sector.

"Ontario remains committed to developing a balanced regulatory framework that is focused on protecting our youth, maximizing public health and road safety, and reducing harm", Naqvi said.

The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recognized that patients' use of cannabis is different from recreational users.

"It is important to note that as the bill moves through the legislative process, existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place and they need to be respected", Goodale said Thursday.

In spite of many lawmaker's enthusiasm for the proposed law, Canada's nation-wide legalization of recreational cannabis could conflict with global drug treaties which still ban the substance.

The bills stipulate that consumers be a minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana, but provinces will be permitted to raise that age if desired. The legislation must still be approved by Parliament but with Trudeau's Liberal party holding a majority its passage in considered assured.

It won't mean much to the thousands of Canadians going to Arizona every year except for the possibility of slightly more hassle at the global border by suspicious customs officers, he said. The New Democrats have called for its immediate decriminalization in order to end drug prosecutions they say are causing undue harm and wasting police resources.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, meanwhile, said officials are testing devices similar to roadside breathalyzers to detect cannabis.

Although public opinion is generally supportive of cannabis legalization, Canada's medical profession has expressed concern about the dangers posed by setting too low a minimum legal age.

The legislation also includes a prohibition for producers packaging cannabis in a way associated with "a way of life" including glamor, recreation, excitement, vitality, and risk.

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