By Prarthana Mitra
Four months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Senate passed the Bill C-45 or the Cannabis Act in June 2018, recreational use of cannabis was legalised across Canada on Wednesday. The northern state became the second country in the world (after Uruguay) and the first G7 nation to implement legislation permitting a nationwide marijuana market, with stringent measures still overseeing the purchase and use.
The Legalisation Day marked the dawn of a new era and inaugurated an industry worth more than $4 billion through marijuana trade, as people cheered the opening of special dispensaries all over the country. The day, however, was not without its share of warnings issued by neighbouring US against cross-border marijuana trade, and local anti-pot crusaders staging demonstrations in certain states.
Additionally, some indigenous leaders have also complained that the act does not guarantee their right to regulate or ban sale on their property, like with alcohol, and that they were never consulted about the legislation. Most importantly, despite multiple proven medical benefits, the herb has acquired a bad name for itself and if often referred to the gateway drug.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001.
What the law guarantees
According to the new law, adults will be allowed to purchase, use, possess (up to 30 gms), and grow recreational marijuana. The legal age is 19 except in Quebec and Alberta where it is 18. The supply is going to be limited to some stores and licensed retailers at first and won’t be sold at liquor or tobacco counters. Packaging has to list all relevant information including the name of the producer, marijuana strain, and its THC/CBD content.
The government anticipates there will be a three-month transition period before cannabis before supply is regulated. British Columbia, one of the provinces with the highest rates of cannabis use, will only have one legal store open on Wednesday, whereas, in Ontario, Quebec, for example, you can only purchase it online till the year-end.
Needless to say, it remains an offence for minors to buy, possess and use marijuana in Canada. It is illegal to sell if you don’t have an authorised license. Driving high is not advisable, as THC level above five nanograms is punishable. Your employer has final authority on drug policy in the workplace. Smoking a joint in public may still be illegal, but you can legally do so at home.
The law forbids travellers arriving and leaving Canada to carry the substance, even if you are coming from the nine US states where marijuana is legalised. Meanwhile, Canadians who were previously convicted of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana might subsequently be released on amnesty.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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