On April 13, 2017, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation to legalize recreational cannabis in Canada by July 2018.
“Today, we are following through on our commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis and to create new laws to punish more severely those who drive under its influence,” said Wilson-Raybould in a press release.”The Cannabis Act reflects an evidence-based approach that will protect Canadians’ public health and safety.”
The Cannabis Act would establish a national regulatory framework for controlling production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in the country; allow adults 18 or older to purchase cannabis from a provincially-licensed retailer; permit adults to possess or share up to 30 grams of cannabis; and legalize personal home grows of up to four plants per residence.
While the legislation would establish federal guidelines for recreational cannabis, provinces and territories would have to craft jurisdiction-specific regulations for selling recreational cannabis in accordance with the federal government’s framework. If a province or territory neglects to enact regulations for a commercial cannabis market, adult residents in that province or territory would be allowed to purchase cannabis from a federally licensed producer online.
If the Cannabis Act is passed by Parliament and garners Royal Assent, Canada would become the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis, and as such, the legislation makes clear that the reward of legalization also comes with great responsibility and institutes penalties for a range of infractions that would constitute violations of the Cannabis Act.
Part 1 of the bill lists all activities that would be considered criminal and the punishments associated with each, such as a prison sentence of up to 14 years for contributing or selling cannabis to a minor or employing a minor to commit a cannabis-related crime.
According to Reuters, “The legislation will be reviewed in Parliamentary committees, where alterations could be made. But it is ultimately all but guaranteed to pass, as the Liberals have a majority in the House of Commons.”