Canada become the second country in the world to fully legalise marijuana, after the senate approved legislation paving the way for recreational cannabis to be legally bought and sold within the next two or three months.
Canada is only the second country in the world — and the first G7 nation — to implement legislation to permit a nationwide marijuana market. In the neighboring US, nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use, and 30 allow for medical use.
Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Cannabis Act, stems from a campaign pledge of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep marijuana away from underage users and reduce related crime.
The act to legalize the recreational use of weed was first introduced on April 13, 2017, and was later passed at the House of Commons in November. The Senate passage of the bill was the final hurdle in the process.
Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana’s production, sale and consumption in December 2013.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government introduced the legislation last year in a bid to make Canada the second country in the world to legalise cannabis, after Uruguay. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada.
On Tuesday, the prime minister welcomed the legislation being passed. “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits,” he wrote on Twitter. “Today, we change that.”
Once legalisation goes into effect, Canadians will be able grow up to four plants in their own home and carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis for personal use. Those caught with more than this amount, or who supply marijuana to minors will face penalties.
Sales of cannabis – which analysts estimate could eventually be worth somewhere between C$5bn and C$7bn annually – will vary widely across the country.
In Alberta, recreational cannabis will be available at more than 200 private retailers while in New Brunswick, the provincial government will operate a chain of stores called Cannabis NB.
The minimum age of consumption will fluctuate between 18 or 19 years depending on the province.
Consumers are expected to purchase marijuana from retailers regulated by provinces, territories or — when neither of those options are available — federally licensed producers. Marijuana will also not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco.
The Canadian government has also implemented changes to their impaired driving laws, to address repercussions for driving under the influence of cannabis.
The bill set a floor on the minimum age of the consumer at 18 years, and makes the production, distribution, or sale of cannabis products an offense for minors.
While provinces can increase the minimum age, the intent is to continue to discourage Canadian youth from pot use, by establishing many of the same restrictions that exist for cigarettes and other tobacco products.