Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Canada Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

Canada Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

The Canadian government introduced legislation on Thursday that put the country on track to make recreational marijuana use legal by July 2018, with plans to regulate production but left the details of how the drug will be sold up to the provinces.

Marijuana legalization advocates in Canada who oppose an arbitrary driving limit for THC should be in contact with lawmakers and Prime Minister Trudeau to ask them to avoid setting a specific limit for THC as their proposal would do.

The federal government is steering Canada into a bold and risky social experiment with proposed new laws legalizing recreational marijuana for those aged 18 and older - and stringent new criminal sanctions for those who break them.

Bill Blair, the ex-Toronto police chief turned Liberal MP, said the objective is not to promote the use of pot, but to allow its safe, socially responsible use through the mechanism of legislation and strict regulation. Despite about $2-6 billion spent by the Canadian police to deal with marijuana use, Canadian teens are among "the heaviest users in the Western world", Goodale said.

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.

With some of those key elements still need to be worked out, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the move to legalize marijuana will be done expeditiously but carefully.

"Driving while impaired by drugs is, and will remain, illegal", said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Thursday, adding that new driving offences have been created. Under the legislation introduced Thursday, packaging rules bar anything appealing to young people and prohibit the use of "testimonial or endorsement". Uruguay is the only other country in the world that allows recreational use of marijuana.

Trudeau himself admitted in 2013 to having smoked pot five or six times in his life, including at a dinner party with friends after being elected to parliament.

Opposition parties are split on the issue.

Legalized pot would reduce organized crime's earnings from drug trafficking, the government's statement said.

A frontrunner for the leadership of the Tories, Kellie Leitch, meanwhile, said she would repeal the bill and reinstate the ban, if elected.

James Phillips, CEO of the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance, said the Canadian move could cause problems along the border because marijuana possession is still illegal under USA law.

"This must be an orderly transition; it is not a free for all".

Health groups have expressed concern about the potential impact of marijuana on developing brains under the age of 25.

'The only control that is now in place is the criminal sanction and the laws, ' he said, according to CBC News. The government will also standardize potency and serving sizes.

It set the legal age at 18, but said it would be up to each province to decide if it should be higher and also how the drug is distributed and sold. "If there appears to be a pattern of examination at the border that just does not accord with appropriate, professional, reliable, consistent conduct, then obviously that's the sort of thing that we should raise at a governmental level to make sure people are treated appropriately".

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