By Amanda Froelich,
History has been made in Canada, where the country’s Senate passed a bill (52-29) to legalize cannabis for recreational use. As the BBC reports, the bill controls and regulates how the herb can be cultivated, distributed, and sold. As early as September, Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally.
In December of 2013, Paraguay became the first country to legalize pot for recreational use. Shortly after, a number of US states voted to allow the herb. Now, Canada is jumping on the bandwagon. In 1923, the North American nation outlawed cannabis consumption. But in 2001, it was legalized for medicinal purposes.
Within the week, the bill is likely to receive Royal Assent. Then, the government will choose an official date when the law will go into effect. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the development in a “Tweet”. He wrote: “it’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits”.
Provinces and territories are expected to receive eight to 12 weeks to set up the new marijuana marketplace. By mid-September, pot will be available for sale at licensed dispensaries and at various retail locations. Reportedly, Canadians will also be able to order weed online from federally licensed producers.
Residents will be allowed to grow up to four pot plans at home. While in public, adults will be able to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried herb in public. Not right away, but within one year of the bill going into effect, edibles — cannabis-infused foods — will be available.
Unlike the US, where residents and tourists must prove they are at least 21 years of age, Canadian citizens will be able to purchase weed at 18. In some provinces, that limit will increase to 19.
The Canadian government has left it up to the provinces to decide how marijuana is sold and other limits within their jurisdiction (such as where it can be smoked). Strict guidelines for plain packaging with minimal branding and strict health warnings has been mandated by the federal government. Companies or brands that target young people, promote through sponsorship, characters, or animals in advertising will be reprimanded.
Demand for herb is high in Canada. In 2015, Canadians spent about C$6 billion on bud. That’s almost as much as they spent on wine! Hopefully, with this development, it is only a matter of time before other countries, including the United States, decriminalize cannabis entirely.
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