Our neighbor to the north has officially legalized marijuana for recreational use. It’s the second country in the world to do so, and the first in the G7, which has big implications for wealthy nations’ drug policies. As soon as the end of this summer, Canadian adults will be able to consume, grow, and buy weed.
The road to get here was paved by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration, which has emphasized marijuana as a benefit to public health. Bill C-45, the cannabis legalization legislation, officially passed in the Canadian Senate on Tuesday, the last step before the bill became law. Adults can light up right away, but retail isn’t predicted for at least two months. Unlike in US states that voted to legalize weed, the minimum age to consume marijuana in most places is 18 — in Alberta and Quebec, you have to be 19.
Once the bill is formally approved, people will be able to legally carry up to 30 grams.
How Weed Can Be Sold, Used, and Grown
One huge aspect of C-45 was the right of individual provinces to determine how marijuana can be sold, along with specifics on where it can be consumed, how much can be grown at home, and how old you have to be to purchase it. The federal government still controls criminal matters, like selling weed to minors, and licensing for growers. One argument posed by the opposition was that provinces won’t have enough time to configure distribution rules, but it didn’t stop the legislation’s progress.
How Canada’s Decision Affects Us
Being the first wealthy nation to legalize weed has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s a historic legal precedent that makes Trudeau’s Liberal Party one of the most progressive in the world. It’s also been a huge economic draw in US states that have legalized marijuana, and the first-world recreational weed industry now has an official country to sink its claws into. On the downside, this decision opens Canada up to a lot of uncertainties. It’s in violation of international anti-drug law, and it may strain foreign relations, including those with the US.
On the positive side, Canada’s precedent makes the debate over legalization here more realistic. If they can do it, so can we. It’s also an example, a bit of peer pressure if you will, for Democratic legislators to advance their bills. Another consideration is that the proximity of our nations might spell trouble for border crossings. With an open market upstate, Americans have more opportunities to traffic cannabis, and Canadians are more likely to get denied entry. Additionally, there’s now a legal weed corridor from California to Alaska, which means even Mexico is more likely to reconsider legalizing pot. There’s an exciting future for the North American marijuana market — try saying that five times fast — and Canada has made the first, momentous move.