Legalizing Cannabis: What We Know So Far
After years of prohibition, cannabis is finally set to be legalized in Canada in the summer of 2018. Here’s our primer on what we know so far about the process of legalizing cannabis in Canada.
Aiming to reduce illegal distribution and underage consumption, Canada is set to legalize the recreational consumption of cannabis by the end of the summer. As the final vote on Bill C-45 is set for June 7, 2018, Canadians have much to consider in a short amount of time.[i] From provincial policies, legal implications and regional differences, the legalization of cannabis is sure to affect the whole country.
As Bill C-45 is set to legalize recreational use of cannabis in Canada, provinces and territories have an opportunity to shape policies to best accommodate users while managing negative responses and perceptions. With perceptions of cannabis as diverse as the people in Canada, creating policies for the legalization of cannabis use can be challenging. It will take input from government officials, health professionals and law enforcement to design policies to limit substance abuse while keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors.
With the goal of stamping out the cannabis black market in Canada, legalization sets to regulate distribution of the substance. However, though legalization intends to limit illegal sales and distribution, there are other legal concerns that arise from Bill-C45, including operating a motor vehicle while impaired. With no current consensus on how long it takes to be able to drive safely after consuming cannabis,[ii] and no 100% effective way to test for cannabis impairment in drivers, there are still many regulatory questions that have yet to be settled.
Although the production of cannabis will be regulated by the federal government, individual provinces are responsible for determining age restrictions and seller regulations. Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick will rely on the provincial government for sales, while provinces including Alberta and Manitoba will provide licenses for private retailers.[iii] Provinces and territories will also control limitations for growing cannabis in personal residences, where cannabis can be consumed and personal possession limits.[iv]
Myth vs. reality
Though some may believe that there will be consumption of cannabis throughout the streets of major cities across Canada come summer 2018, this is not the case. Much like regulations surrounding alcohol, there will be rules and regulations not only surrounding sales of the substance, but also the end user’s consumption habits. Legalization is designed to better regulate the distribution of cannabis, keeping the substance away from minors and decreasing organized crimes.
Though Bill C-45 has its critics, with the co-operation of policymakers and law enforcement, policies can be formed with the best interest of the Canadian public in mind.
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