The Steps to Cannabis Legalization


After being elected Prime Minister in 2015, the first significant step that Justin Trudeau took was the creation of a federal-provincial-territorial task force to discuss a jointly suitable process for the legalization of cannabis possession for casual use.

This Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation released a 106-page report to the public on 13 December 2016, with various recommendations. Those were provided for consideration by the federal and provincial governments, but they were not binding.

Sales for recreational use will not commence until 1 July 2018, at the earliest, based on legislation (Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act) passed by the federal government in June 2018.

Subsequently, the substance will remain controlled: sold only at government licensed retailers, and grown only by licensed producers.

During the federal election campaign, the Liberals had promised "new, stronger laws" against sales to minors, driving while impaired, and sales through channels not specifically authorized to do so.

Until approximately 17 October 2018, marijuana remained illegal (except with a physician's prescription, for medical purposes), as Trudeau reminded police forces across the country in late 2016. He insisted that they "enforce the law": criminally charge illegal storefront dispensaries.

Trudeau also explained that the intent of the legislation is not to encourage recreational use of cannabis. The intent is "to better protect our kids from the easy access they have right now to marijuana to remove the criminal elements that were profiting from marijuana", he told the Toronto Star on 2 December 2016.

On 1 June 2018, the Canadian Senate passed an amendment to C-45 outlawing cannabis "brand-stretching". The amendment, which passed 34–28, outlaws the sale and display of cannabis-related merchandise and makes it difficult to publicly promote cannabis once legalized. However, this amendment was rejected by the Liberal government when the bill was returned to the House of Commons and does not appear in the final version of C-45 that received Royal Assent.

On 19 June 2018, the Senate passed the bill and the Prime Minister announced the effective legalization date as 17 October 2018. Canada is the second nation (after Uruguay) to legalise the drug.


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