One step closer! Marijuana legislation clears the Senate, headed for Royal Assent

In a historic move that has got the whole country rejoicing, the Senate has voted to pass Bill C-45, the government’s legislation to legalize cannabis, meaning that recreational marijuana will soon be legal across Canada.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce Wednesday (June 20) afternoon when marijuana will become legal in Canada.

After more than a year of intensive study in both the House and Senate, the bill cleared the final legislative hurdle Tuesday evening, passing by a vote of 52 to 29 with two abstentions from the Independent Senators from Quebec: Sen. Marie-Françoise Mégie and Sen. Rosa Galvez.

The House of Commons will be notified of the Senate’s decision. After that, all that is left will be Royal Assent to officially pass the bill and for the government to determine when the new law will come into force.

The legislation — an electoral promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party –allows adults in Canada to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. It sets out parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of the drug. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors. The proposed federal law spells out that it will be illegal for anyone younger than 18 to buy pot, but allows for provinces and territories to set a higher minimum age.

Speaking with reporters following the vote, Sen. Harder said he was finally pausing after the manoeuvrings and the procedural wrangling to acknowledge that after a very lengthy debate, Canada is on the cusp of legalization after nearly a century of prohibition.

“It is a step in the right direction and what we now need to do is to insure as we move forward in implementation, that everybody plays their role, that everybody understands the obligations that they have and uses the opportunity of the next number of weeks to inform themselves of what a legal cannabis market means for them, their family, their communities, and the opportunities and risks that it poses,” said Sen. Harder.

So is marijuana legal? No.

The bill still needs to receive Royal Assent, which is expected as soon as tomorrow. That is the final step — essentially the Crown approving the bill. It’s overseen by Canada’s representative, the Governor General.

Once it passes, the government is expected to declare the date that legalization will come into force and be applicable.

On CTV’s Question Period, parliamentary secretary and the federal government’s point-person on pot, Bill Blair said he expects the date to be some time this September.

That window of time between when the bill passes and when it becomes federal law is to allow for the provinces, territories, municipalities, police forces, and other stakeholders to make sure their piece of the pot pie is operating in accordance with the new rules.

Blair said the date they decide on will be informed by discussions with their provincial and territorial counterparts, which have been given the ability to set regulations in their jurisdictions as to how a legalized marijuana regime will operate.

What you need to know:

Many of the decisions around how legalized marijuana is sold and used will be up to the provinces and territories. Here is what you need to know about what will be allowed:

The federally mandated public possession limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis has been maintained across the country, with most jurisdictions opting to keep their legal marijuana-smoking ages in line with those for drinking alcohol.

Bill C-45 allows individuals to grow up to four marijuana plants per residence, though some provinces, like Manitoba and Quebec, plan to ban home cultivation.

Provincial and territorial plans vary widely on whether you’ll be able to smoke in public.

Provinces and territories also differ on whether pot shops will be publicly or privately owned. For those opting for publicly owned stores, these will be operated by provincial Crown corporations that sell liquor. In some cases, provinces have even created subsidiaries of these companies with names. Unless otherwise noted, these will be standalone stores wholly separate from those that sell alcohol.

While dried cannabis and cannabis oil — both of which will be sold in 2018 — can be used to make edible products at home, the federal government has said that packaged edible products won’t be commercially available.

For a comprehensive rundown of how each province is approaching legalized marijuana, click here.

Read the FULL article by CTV News  here

 

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Curious about what Bill C-45 entails?  Read on for an excerpt from the published bill from the Library of Parliament

This enactment enacts the Cannabis Act to provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.
The objectives of the Act are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.
THE ACT
(a) establishes criminal prohibitions such as the unlawful sale or distribution of cannabis, including its sale or distribution to young persons, and the unlawful possession, production, importation and exportation of cannabis;
(b) enables the Minister to authorize the possession, production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis, as well as to suspend, amend or revoke those authorizations when warranted;
(c) authorizes persons to possess, sell or distribute cannabis if they are authorized to sell cannabis under a provincial Act that contains certain legislative measures;
(d) prohibits any promotion, packaging and labelling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption, while allowing consumers to have access to information with which they can make informed decisions about the consumption of cannabis;
(e) provides for inspection powers, the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties and the ability to commence proceedings for certain offences by means of a ticket;
(f) includes mechanisms to deal with seized cannabis and other property;
(g) authorizes the Minister to make orders in relation to matters such as product recalls, the provision of information, the conduct of tests or studies, and the taking of measures to prevent non-compliance with the Act;
(h) permits the establishment of a cannabis tracking system for the purposes of the enforcement and administration of the Act;
(i) authorizes the Minister to fix, by order, fees related to the administration of the Act; and
(j) authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting such matters as quality, testing, composition, packaging and labelling of cannabis, security clearances and the collection and disclosure of information in respect of cannabis as well as to make regulations exempting certain persons or classes of cannabis from the application of the Act.
This enactment also amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to, among other things, increase the maximum penalties for certain offences and to authorize the Minister to engage persons having technical or specialized knowledge to provide advice. It repeals item 1 of Schedule II and makes consequential amendments to that Act as the result of that repeal.
In addition, it repeals Part XII.‍1 of the Criminal Code, which deals with instruments and literature for illicit drug use, and makes consequential amendments to that Act.
It amends the Non-smokers’ Health Act to prohibit the smoking and vaping of cannabis in federally regulated places and conveyances.
Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.