As it turns out, marijuana legalization in Canada is not up in smoke.
The Liberal government announced last week they will introduce legislation on April 20 to approve the legalization of marijuana — legislation they hope will be active for Canada Day 2018. This declaration follows a 106-page report released by theTask Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, which was assembled in June 2016. The task force was created to weed out any issues pertaining to legalization and has set guidelines on how to proceed to approving the product.
The report has an extensive set of recommendations for the Liberal government, including who will be able to sell it, buy it, and how much it will cost. The recommended age limit is 18, but can be set higher if the province chooses. The Canadian Medical Association had a problem with the age restriction and suggested it be raised because the teenage brain is still developing at 18, but ultimately the task force believed this would fail to adequately solve the issue of young adults smoking unregulated pot.
If this legislation is approved, the government would control and license producers, though people would be able to grow up to four plants in their own home. As described in the report, the plants would have a maximum mandatory height limit of 100 cm and would need ‘reasonable security measures to prevent theft and youth access, with oversight and approval by “local authorities”.
The restrictions of marijuana would be similar to the Tobacco Act in that it wouldn’t allow advertising or endorsements. The packaging would contain company name, strain name, price, amount of THC in the product and any warnings. There would also be a seed-to-sale tracking system implemented to avoid corruption of the market. The price of weed would have to be competitive with street prices and would be lower to invigorate people to buy legally-regulated marijuana. The report also discussed the criminal penalties after legalization. Criminal punishment will remain for illicit production, trafficking or possession, and trafficking to youth. There is also an imposed limit of 30 grams on a person at any given time, and vape houses will require a permit.
People have been buzzing since the announcement and it has been met with varied opinions. The Liberals have been in hot water as of late with their millennial supporters who are feeling snubbed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to not carry through with his promise of electoral reform, and many sense this is the government’s way of winning back support. It will be interesting to see whether legalization of marijuana sways the vote in the favour of the Liberals with the election looming in the following year.
Being able to grow plants at home deserves attention as well. Several people would adhere to the rules of only having four plants, but it would be hard to monitor people who would potentially take advantage of growing at home, and may use it as an opportunity to sell recreationally. The information provided on licensing and which producers would receive approval is also vague. It is concerning to think of massive producers getting contracts and making pot that is full of additives and chemicals similar to tobacco. The task force did emphasize licensing smaller producers as well, but more transparent information should be provided to the public ahead of that decision.
The legalization of marijuana is a progressive and smart decision. It is positive to see the Liberals keep their promises and commit to following through with a controversial and important initiative. Taking weed off the streets will help people get high safely and will help normalize a fairly typical drug of choice. Canada is finally becoming a ‘chill’ nation, and July 1, 2018, will certainly be a very relaxed day for most Canadians celebrating the new legislation.
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