The federal Liberal government has finally launched its long-awaited effort to legalize recreational marijuana, setting in motion a host of sweeping policy changes for public safety and health across Canada. People over 18 would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of weed.
Bill Blair, a member of parliament and former Toronto police chief who has led the government's marijuana reform process, said that the government consulted extensively with officials in Colorado and Washington.
The government's plan has been broadly shaped by a panel of experts, but many issues still need to be worked out before legal sales can begin.
The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana, while placing strict limits on selling to minors and drug-impaired driving.
Vox notes that "Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household and possess up to 30 grams per person".
Consumers will also be allowed to grow up to four plants at home or buy from a licensed retailer.
The Globe and Mail stated that the legislation would put in place new criminal offences, including a maximum penalty of 14 years to anyone who sells or provides marijuana to a minor.
The current legal prohibitions have been an "abject failure" at keeping the children from getting a hold of marijuana, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Those who are under the influence of marijuana, he said, are still drastically less impaired than they would be under the effect of legal quantities of alcohol. Canada joins Uruguay, the only other nation to have fully legalized recreational marijuana (Portugal has had great success with its decriminalization of all drugs).
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Bringing marijuana products across the border could cause confusion for citizens of both countries: Americans who may cross back into the US still under the influence, and Canadians who enter the USA unwittingly in possession of marijuana.
It's nothing short of a sea change in public policy, one with profound implications for everything from Canadian culture and health to border security, road safety and even global relations: legalizing marijuana.
He also said maybe legalization in Canada will spur a rise in marijuana tourism in his country.
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 main goal, the government said, is to control the production, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana, and keep it out of the hands of criminal organizations. "In any jurisdiction where a law has passed that a citizen deems unfair, we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms", she said.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about today's legislation, such as where marijuana will be sold, how much it will costs, what percentage of the price will be tax and whether people will still opt for under-the-counter marijuana if it is significantly cheaper than the government-sanctioned variety.
The new bill outlines that it will be illegal to drive within two hours of having an illegal level of drugs in the blood. In provinces that fail to regulate marijuana, residents will be able to purchase from federally regulated distributers over the Internet.
"Our system will actually be better", he said.