Marijuana to be legal in Canada by 2018, announcement expected next month

In a little over a year, recreational marijuana could be regulated and sold in a way similar to alcohol / Mark Blinch (Reuters)

The Trudeau government will soon announce a plan to legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018, reports CBC News.

The announcement will reportedly come just before April 20, a symbolic date for the usage of marijuana. The government used the day last year to announce they would be bringing forward legislation to legalize marijuana by spring 2017.

Marijuana legalization was a key component of the Liberal Party’s electoral platform, where they promised to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana,” to keep drugs “out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals.”

The responsibilities will be divided up between the federal and provincial governments. The federal government will license producers, ensuring the supply of Marijuana coming into or being grown in Canada is safe. Meanwhile, the provinces will be able to decide how marijuana is distributed and sold, including setting the price.

While the federal age limit will be 18, the provinces have the ability to raise that within their own jurisdiction. It is expected provinces will keep the age in line with their respective ages for alcohol consumption.

Canadians will also be able to grow four plants per household.

The Liberals’ legislative agenda regarding marijuana will be largely based on the well-received findings and recommendations of the federal marijuana task force. The task force was appointed by the government to study how marijuana should best be legalized and regulated, and their 112 page report was endorsed by the government.

The report urges approaching the marijuana industry in a similar way to the tobacco and alcohol industries, with strong regulations, especially regarding advertising, and high taxes to discourage consumption. It also suggests utilizing the new source of income to fund drug prevention, education, and treatment.

Additional recommendations include the creation of dedicated locations to use marijuana, such as lounges, and limiting the personal possession of marijuana to 30 grams.

Another serious consideration raised by the article is how to handle marijuana-impaired driving. To that end it suggests an immediate public safety campaign to educate the country on the dangers of driving while high.

The reports come after a Sunday NDP leadership debate held in Montreal, where prospective candidates to lead Canada’s third party accused the Liberals of blowing smoke on marijuana legalization.

“I do not believe Justin Trudeau is going to bring in the legalization of marijuana,” said leadership candidate Peter Julian. “We are still seeing, particularly young Canadians, being criminalized by simple possession of marijuana.”

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