Canada introduces legislation to legalise marijuana

Canada introduces legislation to legalise marijuana

The move to legalize recreational use of marijuana is supported by a strong majority of Canadians, but is not without controversy and is sure to provoke a fierce debate in parliament over the coming months.

Until the new law comes into force, cannabis will remain illegal everywhere in Canada, except for medical purposes.

It set the legal age at 18, but said it would be up to each province to decide if it should be higher and also how the drug is distributed and sold.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks to keep his word on legalizing marijuana with a plan now set in place. According to one estimate, Canada's legal-marijuana market could be worth almost $5 billion by 2019. "We simply have to do better", said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. When Wilson-Raybould was asked whether there was anything to stop provinces from setting the age limit as high as they want, she suggested they might face constitutional challenges.

Goodale said they've been close touch with the US government on the proposed law and noted exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal.

Although recreational marijuana use has been legalised in some U.S. states, including Colorado and Washington, the legislation puts Canada on track to be the first Group of Seven country to legalise it nationally.

The strict rules mean adults could have up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public, and to grow up to four plants per household at a maximum height of one metre at home.

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- Prohibits tourists from bringing pot past the border, but allows them to use pot while in Canada.

But Canadian provinces, tasked with the responsibility of regulating marijuana sales, are already scrambling to develop their plans under the potential law. "We hope both the federal and provincial governments will use our expertise to build a safe and inclusive system for the sale of cannabis that effectively ends the black market".

A statement from the Government of Canada said: "The current approach to cannabis does not work". "Police forces spend between $2bn and $3bn every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world".

"Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities", said Bill Blair, a lawmaker and former Toronto police chief involved in the legislative process for the legalization bill.

For the first time, the bill would make it a criminal offense to sell cannabis to a minor and create significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offenses. "Our system will actually be the better one", Goodale said.

According to a statement issued by Health Canada, "the movement of cannabis and cannabis products across worldwide borders would remain a serious criminal offence". For instance, advertisers will not be allowed to market pot directly to youths in the same way that tobacco can not use youthful themes. "The laws of Canada are the responsibility of Canada".

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