Remember the good old days when pot was going to be legalized on Canada Day 2018 and we were all going to have a super chill Canada 151? Well, you might have to change the theme of your July 1st party because it looks like this thing could take a lot longer than we originally thought. Like, waaay longer. The federal government and the senate are having major disputes about what’s going to be legal and what’s not and those disagreements could mean we’re waiting quite a while longer for the legal green stuff.
Approval for The Cannabis Act has been a long time coming but the Senate finally okay-ed the bill last week — one of the final steps to legalization. However, they also proposed 46 amendments for the federal Liberal government to review. The feds chose to adopt 27 of the changes — mostly technicalities — but “respectfully disagree with” (read: rejected) 13 of them.
Some of the rejected amendments were considered redundant measures to the government, but there were three standouts that are of some interest.
The Senate wanted to alter the Act to allow provinces to ban the personal cultivation of marijuana. The original bill allowed for four plants to be grown per household and gave power to provinces to regulate personal plants (but not outright ban). Justin Trudeau and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said that this is an important aspect of the bill for helping stamp out the illegal market.
Petitpas Taylor added, “Canadians are allowed to make beer at home, or wine and some can even grow tobacco. It is already possible for Canadians to grow cannabis for medical purposes and we absolutely believe that the legislation should be consistent when it comes to recreational cannabis.”
Another rejected amendment would forbid licensed pot stores from also selling marijuana-related merchandise and promotional items such as company branded t-shirts. The government’s reasoning for the decision sates that “the Cannabis Act already includes comprehensive restrictions on promotion,” suggesting that they view any additional limitations to be unnecessary.
The Senate also wanted to create a public registry of any individuals associated with the cannabis industry including parent companies, shareholders and investors. The theory behind the registry would be to make it more difficult for organized crime groups to infiltrate the legal market. The feds rejected the amendment on the grounds that it posed too much of a logistical challenge and that it would lead to privacy concerns.
Trudeau already said that July 1st legalization wasn’t going to happen but that it would definitely be sometime this summer. With these amendment rejections and a potential back-and-forth between the Senate and the government brewing, that might not happen. Especially since there will still be an eight- to twelve-week wait period after the Governor General’s royal assent to give provinces time to figure out their regulation systems.
Maybe we’ll have a super chill Canada 152 instead.