Wednesday 22 November 2017

Canada expected to legalise cannabis by July 2018

Canada would the largest developed country to completely legalise the drug
Canada would the largest developed country to completely legalise the drug

Canadians are expected to be able to smoke cannabis legally by July 1 2018.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government will introduce legislation to legalise recreational cannabis on the week of April 10, and officials expect it to be law by July next year, an official said.

Mr Trudeau has long promised to legalise recreational cannabis use and sales.

Canada would be the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition of recreational cannabis.

In the US, voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the recreational use of the drug, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Uruguay in South America is the only nation to have legalised recreational cannabis.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould declined to confirm the dates provided by the official, but said in a statement the government is committed to introducing legislation this spring that would "legalise, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis".

"This will be done in a careful way to keep it out of the hands of children and youth, and to stop criminals from profiting," the statement said.

"In order to meet our commitment to legalise, the legislation will need to pass through the parliamentary process in a timely fashion."

The news was noticed online by Snoop Dogg , who tweeted "Oh Canada!"

The Canadian government is expected to follow the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan as well as the advice of former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister.

Mr Blair has been visiting police departments across the country.

The task force recommended adults be allowed to carry up to 30g of cannabis for recreational purpose and grow up to four plants.

It also recommended that higher-potency cannabis be taxed at a higher rate than weaker strains. It also said recreational marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Under the task force proposals, alcohol-free cannabis lounges would be allowed.

The panel's report noted public health experts tend to favour a minimum age of 21 as the brain continues to develop to about 25, but said setting the minimum age too high would preserve the illicit market.

Canadian youth have higher rates of cannabis use than their peers worldwide.

While the government moves to legalise cannabis, retail outlets selling cannabis for recreational use have already been set up. Mr Trudeau has emphasised current laws should be respected. Police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities raided stores earlier this month and made arrests.

AP

Press Association

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