Canada Just Ended Its 95-Year Ban on Cannabis

In a historic vote on Tuesday, the Senate approved Bill C-45.

The step is only a formality.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said the provinces will need two to three months after the bill is passed before they'll be ready to implement the new legalized cannabis regime.

Four initial sites were announced earlier this year - in Toronto (south of Victoria Park subway station), Guelph, Kingston, Thunder Bay - and are to open by the end of 2018.

Only Uruguay has made recreational marijuana legal at the federal level.

The Conservatives are the last remaining openly partisan group in the Senate, to which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen to name only non-partisan, independent senators recommended by an arm's-length advisory body.

While medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for nearly 20 years, the bill would remove a 95-year-old ban on recreational use of the substance. "We would like to commend the fearless advocates who spent years building momentum for change...to all Canadians who participated in turning an idea into reality, this is your moment to celebrate". Significant market disruption is likely in the country's alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries as well, he said. Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and eight of those laws include systems for regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

The federal government set a minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana, though some provinces have indicated they will raise the age to 19, mirroring liquor purchase laws.

Conservative senators also raised other concerns, such as slower USA border crossings, that kept the bill in the upper house for about seven months.

"This is an historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada as we shift our approach to cannabis", Wilson-Raybould said via Twitter Tuesday night. "I don't think it is of such importance to warrant an extraordinary intervention".

The Senate had wanted to remove the provision that allowed police to conduct random roadside alcohol tests, but the government rejected that amendment, among others. We'll see the end of criminalization and we can start addressing Canada's $7 billion illegal market.

"There's still a lot of work to do despite the fact that this has been a very lengthy process", Cullen said, including training staff in stores and rolling out a public education campaign.


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