Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Says Marijuana Will Be Legal in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada on Oct. 17.
Trudeau made the proclamation during question period Wednesday, saying the provinces wanted more time to implement the new regime than originally anticipated.
This announcement comes after a historic vote in the Senate Tuesday night to pass Bill C-45, the government’s legislation to legalize cannabis.
After more than a year of intensive study in both the House and Senate, the bill cleared the final legislative hurdle Tuesday evening, passing by a vote of 52 to 29 with two abstentions.
The bill still needs to receive Royal Assent, which is expected on Thursday.
Oct. 17 will be the day that the major social policy change will come into force.
It was previously expected that the date of implementation would be sometime in September, as the government was estimating it would take between eight and 12 weeks to allow for the provinces, territories, municipalities, police forces, and other stakeholders to make sure their piece of the pot pie is operating in accordance with the new rules.
The government has said the date would be informed by discussions with their provincial and territorial counterparts, which have been given the ability to set regulations in their jurisdictions as to how a legalized marijuana regime will operate.
The legislation -- an electoral promise Trudeau and the Liberal Party --allows adults in Canada to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. It sets out parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of the drug. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors. The proposed federal law spells out that it will be illegal for anyone younger than 18 to buy pot, but allows for provinces and territories to set a higher minimum age.
For a comprehensive rundown of how each province is approaching legalized marijuana, click here.
Speaking about Bill C-45 passing, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould cautioned Canadians that the current prohibition and laws about cannabis will remain in place until the date of implementation, and urged people to follow the law until then.
Wilson-Raybould also said she anticipated that Bill C-46, the impaired driving bill that was introduced alongside Bill C-45, will pass Parliament “very soon.”
"I would like to also remind the public that driving while impaired by drugs is, and will remain, illegal," Wilson-Raybould said.
Late Tuesday night the House passed an omnibus motion to adjourn early. This included an agreement to send the government’s message about rejecting Senate amendments to Bill C-46, back to the Upper Chamber.
The Senate had wanted to remove the provision that allowed police to conduct random roadside alcohol tests, but the government rejected that amendment, among others. It’ll now be up to the Senate to decide to accept that or push back.
Given the House is rising either way by day’s end, it’s possible the government is not concerned about the Senate holding up the bill any longer.
As for the rejected Senate amendment to allow provinces to ban growing marijuana at home Wilson-Raybould said the federal government does not intend to challenge the provinces that plan to move ahead with an outright prohibition on pot plants at home, saying it’ll be up to individuals to challenge the provincial laws if they want to be able to do as the federal law says, and grow up to four plants.