Activist says marijuana-legalization bill contains "bizarre" penalties

Nick Mcbride
April 21, 2017

Trudeau's Liberal government promised late last month that the recreational use of marijuana will be legal in Canada on or before July 1, 2018.

Blair said at the news conference in Ottawa that "criminal prohibition has failed" and that 21 percent of youth, and 30 percent of young adults, use cannabis in Canada.

The federal government is also waiting on the result of a pilot project that's been underway in a number of Canadian cities, exploring new technology for a more effective roadside test for enforcing impaired-driving rules.

Adults would be able to grow up to four plants per household (not per person) at a maximum height of one metre, from a legal seed or seedling, or purchase from a licensed retailer.

Canadians would also be permitted to grow up to four plants per residence for personal use, as well as make legal cannabis-containing products at home.

The long-standing prohibition on pot in Canada has been an "abject failure", with police forces spending upwards of $3 billion a year trying to stamp out cannabis use among some of the heaviest users in the western world, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

There will be new criminal code provisions, including making it an offense, punishable by up to 14 years in jail, for the illegal distribution or sale of cannabis as well as similar penalties for providing or selling marijuana to minors. "We hope both the federal and provincial governments will use our expertise to build a safe and inclusive system for the sale of cannabis that effectively ends the black market". Canada joins Uruguay, the only other nation to have fully legalized recreational marijuana (Portugal has had great success with its decriminalization of all drugs).

"We will have common challenges on issues like health and prevention and security, especially when it comes to road and workplace safety", Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said earlier this week. The minimum legal age would be 18, though provinces would be able to raise that.

Since the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals have couched their push to legalize pot in a counterintuitive message: that it is the single best way to keep the drug out of the hands of impressionable and still-developing children.

"The proposed legislation, which is introduced today, seeks to legalise, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis", said Bill Blair, the MP who is set to lead the government's plans for legalisation.

At this point, there are 42 companies that have the necessary authorizations from Health Canada to produce marijuana for medical purposes across the country.

The move will likely put more pressure on American leaders in Washington, D.C., to reform marijuana laws on a federal level - and not the sort of reform Attorney General Jeff Sessions has in mind.

He said the new law will continue to treat cannabis more severely than alcohol.

Despite having low levels of mind-altering THC, hemp has been lumped into the same category as marijuana in the USA, and is classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

"Every sovereign country has the ability at the border to make decisions for themselves", Goodale said. The four new recreational states, which grant cannabis freedom to adults 21 and older, joined Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Washington, D.C., and OR in ending decades of the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.

Other reports by VgToday

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