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Canada's Government Introduces Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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Flowering medicinal marijuana plants in 2016 at Tweed INC in Smith Falls, Ontario.
Lars Hagberg, AFP/Getty Images
Flowering medicinal marijuana plants in 2016 at Tweed INC in Smith Falls, Ontario.

Canada has taken a major step toward legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation that would allow adults to possess, share and purchase marijuana, while also strengthening penalties for those who give or sell the products to youth.

This law has been hotly anticipated, with pot producers and the medical community watching closely.

It makes Canada "the largest federal jurisdiction in the world to legalize cannabis consumption," according to The Toronto Star.

Here's what the Cannabis Act would allow for adults 18 or over to do legally, according to Health Canada:

  • "possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form when in public
  • "share up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis with other adults
  • "purchase dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer
    • in those provinces that have not put in place a regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer with secure home delivery through the mail or by courier
  • "grow up to 4 cannabis plants per residence (not per person) for personal use, from licensed seeds or seedlings supplier, with each plant not to exceed 1 metre in height
  • "make legal cannabis-containing products at home, such as food and drinks, provided that dangerous organic solvents are not used in making them"

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Provinces and territories would make their own decisions regarding the distribution and sale of marijuana, Health Canada says.

Currently, "processing and selling cannabis for non-medical purposes" is against Canadian law in all parts of the country.

In fact, the Department of Justice says that "more than half of all drug offences reported by police are for cannabis possession," and it had indicated that it was considering pardons for some of the people with cannabis offenses on their criminal records.

Health Canada states that Canada "has the highest rates of youth cannabis use of any country in the world." The proposed Cannabis Act introduces penalties for two new criminal offenses: "Giving or selling cannabis to youth" and "using youth to commit a cannabis-related offense."

Trudeau said during his campaign that he intended to legalize marijuana, and the government opened up the idea to 60 days of public comment last year.

Now, Reuters reports that the bill will likely have a smooth ride to become law.

"The legislation will be reviewed in Parliamentary committees, where alterations could be made," the wire service says. "But it is ultimately all but guaranteed to pass, as the Liberals have a majority in the House of Commons."

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