Canada voted to federally legalize recreational cannabis when Senate passed the historic legislation Bill C-45, more commonly known as the Cannabis Act.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, speaks during a town hall event in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Photo by Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images
On June 19th, 2018, Canada’s Senate voted to federally legalize recreational cannabis, ending the game of legislative ping-pong with the House of Commons and passing the country’s historic legislation. Bill C-45, also known as The Cannabis Act will still require Royal Assent before Canada becomes the second country on earth to legalize weed nationwide.
The passing of the Cannabis Act is extremely significant as Canadian legalization could act as a model for other G7 and G20 nations. Since each of the country’s provinces and territories has their own regulatory schemes, the world will be witnessing a real-time case study on the most effective ways to regulate legal recreational cannabis.
While consumption and possession of restricted amounts of cannabis will be legalized once The Cannabis Act has achieved Royal Assent, Edibles will not be legalized until 2019. This has caused significant controversy, as it is the preferred method of intake for many cannabis consumers.
Previously, the Senate had passed the Cannabis Act with a number of amendments, which they then sent back to the House to consider. The House added some of the amendments to the legislation but refused to accept others.
The amendments that the House refused to accept had elicited fierce controversy among lawmakers and Canadians alike. Perhaps the most contested amendment would have given provinces and territories the power to set their own limits on home cannabis cultivation, effectively allowing them to ban home cultivation altogether.
The “Swag Ban” amendment, which would have banned cannabis companies from distributing branded products such as T-Shirts and banners, will also not appear in the final text of the bill. (The Cannabis Act does, however, include regulations on cannabis promotion.)
But during last night’s Senate discussion on the House of Commons’ response to the Senate’s amendments to the bill, Senator Peter Harder presented a motion that would have the Senate not insist on these amendments that were rejected by the House.
If this motion had not passed, the Cannabis Act would have gone back to the House for another round of consideration. But today at around 6:20 pm EST (some were quick to point out that this was 4:20 pm PST), the Senate voted 52 Yeas, 29 Nays, and 2 Abstentions to accept Sen. Harder’s motion. As a result, the Cannabis Act will soon be granted royal assent, the final stage in Canada’s legislative process.
After royal assent, the government plans to allow for an eight-to-12 week transition period as the government prepares to officially roll out recreational cannabis sales.
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