Canada Unveils New Plans to Legalize Marijuana

  • Kristina Evans
  • Apr 18, 2017 10:58AM

The Canadian federal government moved to fulfill a campaign promise last Thursday by tabling new legislation to legalize marijuana use across the country. Bill C-45, once passed, would allow adults 18 years and older to legally buy, possess, and cultivate cannabis.

The Liberals propose that, once passed, the new laws will establish a “strict legal framework” for the production, sale, distribution and possession of pot, and make it against the law to sell cannabis to youth or use a young person to commit a crime related to weed.

“If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure,” Ralph Goodale, Public Safety Minister, told reporters at the news conference last week. “Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world...we simply have to do better.”

New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars- unless it involves the selling of weed to youth. The government aims to establish “significant penalties” for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis or cannabis-related offenses, and vow to take a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving.

Some of the highlights of the bills are as follows:

  • Sales are to be restricted to adults 18 and older, although individual provinces have the jurisdiction to increase their own minimum age
  • People 18+ are allowed to publicly possess 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried cannabis (or equivalent in non-dried form)
  • Sales by mail or courier through a federally licensed producer is allowed in regions without a regulated retail system
  • Adults aged 18 or older would be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence (with plants not exceeding one meter in height)
  • Adults would be allowed to produce legal weed products, like food or drinks, for personal use at home
  • Travelers entering Canada would still be subject to inspections for prohibited items- including cannabis
  • Package designs deemed appealing to youth are prohibited i.e. cartoon characters, endorsements, or images that connect cannabis with a glamorous or exciting lifestyle
  • Possession, production, and distribution outside the legal system would remain illegal, as would imports or exports without a federal permit. Such permits will only cover limited purposes, such as medical or scientific cannabis or industrial hemp
  • Regulation of THC in a driver’s bloodstream
  • Driving within two hours of ingesting an illegal amount of THC will be punishable by fines ranging from up to $1,000.00 to up to life in jail
  • Roadside tests will be developed to measure THC and impairment levels