Marijuana Bill C-45 Passed By the Senate – But Don’t Light up Yet

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Marijuana Bill C-45 Passed By the Senate – On June 19th, after 46 proposed amendments and months of debate going back and forth between the Senate and the government, Bill C-45, Canada’s legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, passed by a vote of 52 to 29 in Parliament.

Although the Liberal government fulfilled its campaign promise, the initial date of July 1st 2018 when marijuana was supposed be legal and available for retail sales, has been delayed. Those who were ready to light up a joint or start germinating seeds will have wait until October 17th of this year. During question period on Wednesday June 20th, Prime Minister Trudeau officially announced the delay, saying ‘the provinces wanted more time to implement the new regime than originally anticipated’. The Bill also needs to go through the final step of receiving Royal Assent, but that is expected to be approved as early as tomorrow.

Bill C-45 Being Passed by Senate

One of the more challenging hurdles they faced causing the delay, was an amendment proposed by the Senate that would have allowed the provinces and territories to ban the home-growing of marijuana, but the government rejected it. In the end the Bill passed, allowing Canadians to grow up to 4 plants per household. Quebec and Manitoba as well as Nunavut, which wanted to ban any home-growing are expected to try and challenge it – but it is seen as unlikely to hold up in court.

Bill C-45 will allow Canadian adults to legally possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis and it will be illegal to sell marijuana to anyone under 18 years old – but the Bill does allow for provinces and territories to set a higher minimum age. There will also be clear rules concerning production, distribution, sales and safety.

For provinces and territories choosing publicly owned stores for sales, they will need to be operated by the same provincial Crown corporations which sell alcohol and have to be ‘standalone’ stores that are separate. As well, edible products will not be available commercially. As far as where Canadians can smoke in public, provinces and territories will be setting their own rules.

The main objective of legalizing marijuana is to keep it off the illegal black market and away from minors. Education will be imperative in making sure this goal is reached.

There is also the question of ‘driving under the influence’ and that’s where Bill C-46 comes in. It has not yet passed, but it specifically deals with drug-impaired driving. The Bill proposes changes to the laws in order to give police the powers they need to do ‘roadside intoxication tests’ that include ‘oral fluid drug tests’. It would also make it illegal to drive within two hours of being over a determined legal limit. But the Senate amended Bill C-46, removing the provision allowing police to conduct random roadside tests and is therefore pending.

It is a historic moment for Canada, ending 90 years of prohibition, but there are still some very legit concerns about legalization and its implications – especially about youth, where it will be allowed to be smoked in public and the home-growing of pot. These issues are expected to be addressed as the legislation is implemented and followed closely by the Federal and Provincial governments. For more details about Bill C-45 go to: http://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?billId=8886269

How do you feel about the legalization of marijuana? Has it gone too far or not far enough?

Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca
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