By Canada Day, or July 1, 2018, weed will be legal north of the border.
Canada’s Liberal government will announce next month new legislation that aims to legalize cannabis.
While Ottawa will dole out licenses to cannabis producers, individual provinces will manage the cannabis market, regulating price, distribution, sales, and tax rates. In the past, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had emphasized that the tax rate should be low in order to cut out the underground industry. “The fact is that if you tax it too much, as you saw with cigarettes, you end up driving things toward a black market, which will not keep Canadians safe — particularly young Canadians,” he said.
In Ottawa, you must be at least 18 to buy cannabis, but other provinces will have the option to set the age higher. The federal government will be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of Canada’s weed. Canadians will also be allowed to grow up to four plants at home.
Canada of course is still working out the legislation. “Until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current laws apply,” Trudeau announced on March 1. A week later, Canadian police raided cannabis dispensaries in Toronto and Vancouver, charging various individuals with possession and trafficking of marijuana.
The Liberals had promised to introduce marijuana legalization laws spring of 2017, and they’re on track to hit their April 10 deadline. When Trudeau campaigned for prime minister, legalizing weed was one of his campaign promises, touted as a necessary policy to keep drugs “out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals.”
The legislation will follow the recommendation of a federal task force chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan. In December, the task force provided a 106-page report with 80 recommendations based in part on the experiences of other legal markets like Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay. Among other recommendations, the task force suggests capping personal public possession of cannabis at 30 grams, while preventing dispensaries from selling more than 30 grams at a time. As far as toking in public, the task force suggests cannabis consumers follow the same guidelines as cigarette smokers.
The task force also recommends letting Canada’s provinces decide for themselves whether or not to allow cannabis social clubs, similar to bars but for weed. Moreover, while outdoor cultivation is currently illegal in Canada, the task force recommends lifting that restriction, given the environmental impact of indoor cultivation. It would also make the market competition more manageable for smaller farmers. “We heard from a great many parties that they wanted a diversity of producers and we agree with that,” said McLellan. “Diversity is an important value in relation to the producers. There will be means by which the government going forward — through implementation and market intervention — to ensure a degree of diversity.”