Legal Cannabis In Canada Is Steps Away As Bill C-45 Heads To The Senate

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We’ve been writing on just about every angle leading up to the legalization of medical and non-medical cannabis in Canada. But, now we’re starting to get genuinely excited.

It’s happening—it’s all happening! (Almost.)

On Monday, the Canadian House of Commons voted 200-82 in approval of the government’s marijuana legalization bill on third reading, sending it to the Senate for further study.

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The Liberal government ultimately accepted three critical amendments to the bill made by the Commons committee tasked with studying the landmark legislation.

1. There is now no rule that limits home plants to under 100 centimeters as it would be too difficult to enforce.

2. Practices must exist for marijuana edibles and extracted products within a year. This measure would establish safety and product quality requirements and impose punishments for those who produce or sell on the black market and is something that Liberal legislators ignored the first time around.

3. The government must review the bill in three years.

Rough ride ahead?

Bill C-45 now faces a potentially rough ride in the unelected Senate. Tony Dean, the Liberal senator sponsor of the bill, promises to keep the legislation on schedule but some Conservative senators are threatening to impede the country’s plans for a comprehensive July roll-out.

Even members of the Independent Senators Group (ISG), who owe no loyalty to the government’s agenda or their Liberal colleagues, have raised eyebrows over whether the July 1 deadline to legalize recreational marijuana is attainable. By that date, each of the ten provinces and territories must create a legal framework that includes plans for policing, tax revenue allocation, operating rules, restrictions and punishments for black-market sales.

Detractors feel it just isn’t possible to construct this by the deadline but a movement to delay the date lost out by a landslide, with a 199-83 no vote.

The Senate may be a wild card given that the Liberals don’t hold a majority of the seats but while senators are known to hold up and revise legislation, they rarely reject it. Member of Parliament Bill Blair, Ottawa’s cannabis point man, went so far as to issue a warning to Senate, saying that “delay is unacceptable.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his party acknowledge that this is happening quickly and that it will be a challenge, but it’s better than letting the black market prevail.

November 29, 2017

by Alana Armstrong

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Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.

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