It’s official: recreational marijuana will be legal across all provinces and territories of Canada as of October 17th, 2018.
Originally, the cannabis legalization date had been set for July, but confrontation between the Red Chamber and the House of Commons as well as procedural problems and delays made the Canada Day deadline impossible for the Liberal government.
Trudeau has promised Canadian governments at all levels two to three months to prepare for the sale and legal use of recreational cannabis across the country.
Provinces and Territories have already established individual laws for the legal distribution of pot within their borders, choosing between private, licensed, and government-run storefronts, as well as set their legal age requirements and established regulations about public and private use. Across Canada, the legal age will be nineteen, except in Alberta and Quebec where the legal age will be eightteen. Online purchasing will be available across the country, and will be subject to strict delivery regulations.
Home grown cannabis seems to be the sticking point for many provincial governments, with some provinces wanting to flat out ban private production in any amount against the federal government’s wishes.
Additionally, there is currently no approved cannabis roadside testing kit available for law enforcement officers across the nation, although C-46 includes new powers for police officers and stricter fines and penalties for Canadians driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
During the hotly contested debates over the details surrounding C-46, the Senate initially refused to allow police the power to force drivers to submit to random roadside testing without any reasonable suspicion of impairment, which is something that had been required for all roadside testing across the country.
The Senate successfully blocked the mandatory screening provision, but when the government rejected the Senate’s changes, the issues were ultimately resolved and the Bill passed with the mandatory screening provision intact.
Timeline for Cannabis Act
November 28th, 2017: Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is introduced by the Senate and given first reading.
March 22nd, 2018: Bill C-45 is referred to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Four other committees also study aspects of the bill.
May 30th, 2018: The committee’s report, with amendments to the bill, is adopted.
May 31st, 2018: Third reading debate ensues.
May 31: issues relating to cannabis production
June 1: issues relating to the sale and distribution of cannabis
June 4: international issues relating to cannabis
June 5: issues relating to criminal penalties
June 6: issues relating to cannabis consumption, public health, and matters relating to Indigenous peoples.
June 7th, 2018: Vote at third reading takes place. Bill C-45, as amended, is adopted by a vote of 56 to 30, with one abstention. The House of Commons accepts some of the Senate’s amendments.
June 19th, 2018: Senators vote 52 to 29, with two abstentions, to adopt a motion to inform the House of Commons that the Senate will not insist on the amendment with which the House disagreed.
June 21st, 2018: Bill C-45 receives Royal Assent.