Tuesday 11 December 2018

Canadian lawmakers vote to legalise recreational marijuana use

Legalisation of the drug was a 2015 campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (stock photo)
Legalisation of the drug was a 2015 campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (stock photo)

Kyle Ewald

Canadian politicians has passed a bill legalising cannabis for recreational use.

The bill passed in the House of Commons on Monday by 205 votes to 82 and will move on to the Senate, which can delay, but not block the new legislation.

Lastly, it must receive royal assent by the governor-general before becoming law.

Legalisation of the drug was a 2015 campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has admitted to smoking a joint “five or six times” with friends — including since being elected as an MP.

The Canadian government is “probably looking at a date of implementation somewhere toward the beginning of September, perhaps mid-September”, according to MP Bill Blair.

Once enacted, the new law will allow for Canadians over the age of 18 to buy a gram of cannabis for about Can$10 (€6.50) or less from authorised private and public retail stores or by post. Each province and territory will be responsible for setting up distribution and personal possession will be limited to 30grams -- one ounce -- per person.

While nine US states and the capital Washington have legalised recreational use of the drug, Canada will be the first G7 Country to do so.

The first step towards ending the Canadian pot prohibition that has been in place since 1923 began with legalising medical use for the drug 2001.

Although President Trudeau initially had a target of July 1 2018 to legalise recreational use as well, he said despite setbacks the government will move to legalise the production, sale and consumption of marijuana before facing the electorate again in 2019.

Canadian Health Minister Ginette Petitpas showed strong support for home cultivation of marijuana last week following the government’s rejection of 13 out of 46 amendments relating to the bill last week.

Ms Petitpas said the government would follow its expert panel’s recommendation to allow for the growth of up to four pot plants for personal use in households: “It is already possible for Canadians to grow cannabis for medical purposes and we absolutely believe the legislation should be consistent when it comes to recreational cannabis.”

Based on consumption data from last year, Statistics Canada has estimated that the market will be worth Can$5.7 billion (€3.7 billion).

As for cannabis tax haul, Finance Minister Bill Morneau has estimated a total of $400 million (€260 million), although Ottawa has agreed to retain only 25 per cent of the total raised and put the rest into provincial government coffers.

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