Canadians are learning that legalizing a drug that’s been outlawed for over a century has it’s complications and takes time. Like, a lot of time. When the Trudeau government first introduced the bill that will one day become the Cannabis Act, the documentation said that legalization would happen in “July 2018” and Canadians took that to mean they would be able to blaze it on Canada Day. Unfortunately for them, that’s not going to be the case.
Trudeau already warned Canadians in December that the July 1 legalization date was never part of an official timeline from the government. He generalized the cannabis roll-out to be “summer 2018” which is less specific, but also meant that it could be earlier than July (as if the government ever does something earlier than planned).
Thursday afternoon, the government pushed the timeline back to at least the beginning of August, but more likely early fall. Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor spoke to the media after a session in the senate where the cannabis bill is currently being debated (the second-last step before it becomes law). Petitpas-Taylor informed the public that the senate is planning for a vote on the legislation on or around June 7 this year and that after receiving royal assent, the government would need eight to twelve weeks to roll out product for sales.
— Senate of Canada (@SenateCA) February 15, 2018
“There’s no exact date but, if you do the math, you’ll see it won’t be July 2018,” Petitpas-Taylor said, “Cannabis legalization is not about a date, it’s about a process … We want this process done as seamlessly as possible.”
That “math” would put legalization anywhere between August 2 and August 30 — if royal assent is given on June 7 (which is unlikely) and assuming nothing changes and there are no further complications (i.e. the vote doesn’t pass, royal assent takes longer than expected).
Conservatives are pleased with the delay because it will allow more time for research into the health effects and other implications of legalization. Some Liberal MPs had been preparing to act if Conservatives stalled the senate debate, but as of Thursday, both sides have officially agreed to the timeline.
This week in the Senate: We agreed to a timetable on the Cannabis Act, Senators toured a licensed cannabis production facility, and two new independent Senators were appointed to the Upper Chamber. Read about it in the GRO newsletter: https://t.co/nWRaHibK3n #SenCA #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/FADByv1XZv
— Peter Harder (@SenHarder) February 16, 2018
So the wait for cannabis will be a little bit longer than we thought, but hey, it’s a lot shorter than we were expecting three years ago when legalization wasn’t even on the table. Plus, you’ll definitely be able to light up for Canada Day 2019 (if you’re into that).