Marijuana will be legalized on October 17 across Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement yesterday at the House of Commons, after Senate passed the Cannabis Act with a vote of 52-29.
"Thanks to the hard work of both Chambers of Parliament, the Cannabis Task Force, along with input from all Canadians, we have passed historic legislation that will legalize and strictly regulate the sale of cannabis in our country,” said Kenora MP Bob Nault, following the announcement.
The date of October 17 was chosen to give provinces a grace period, as they work to finalize their plans for retail and online purchasing.
“While we have a few steps left before legalization, including an implementation phase, this is, nonetheless, a transformative piece of legislation,” Nault said.
Canadians over the age of 19 will be able to posses up to 30 grams of marijuana at a time. Consumption will be confined to private residences, as it will be illegal to consume in public places. Residents will also be allowed to cultivate four marijuana plants in their home.
Senate has also previously introduced and reinforced a number of laws regarding impaired driving, ahead of the expected marijuana legalization.
"To compliment the Cannabis Act, Bill C-46, which is currently in the Senate, will provide new powers for police and strengthen penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” Nault added.
The new, tougher laws against drug-impaired driving will include zero tolerance for: young drivers aged 21 and under, novice drivers – G1, G2, M1 and M2 licence holders and all commercial drivers.
For cannabis, the federal government is expected to approve a new screening device, and setting the thresholds for detectable cannabis presence in the coming months. It's expected that the new screening device would act similar to a breathalyzer, and would be an oral fluid screening device.
Roughly 29 per cent of all road fatalities in Ontario involve a driver impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.
Under former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario was set to open 40 retail stores later this year, controlled by the LCBO. Additionally, the federal government has indicated the online sales will be launched alongside retail locations.
Premier-elect Doug Ford has not confirmed if his PC government will follow through on Wynne’s initiative, besides previously saying that Ontario would be a “free market” for cannabis sales. However, a free market doesn’t mean that residents will be off the hook if they supply marijuana to an individual under the age of 19.
“We know that our previous model of prohibition failed to keep our children safe. That is why this new legislation will place strict penalties on those who make cannabis available to youth under the legal age, while allowing adults to legally purchase, grow and use a limited quantity of cannabis.”
People or businesses that are convicted of illegally selling or distributing cannabis could face fines of up to $250,000 for individuals, and / or jail time of up to two years. Corporations would face fines of up to $1 million for the same offence.