The Canadian government made history Tuesday as the Senate approved the Cannabis Act to make marijuana production and consumption legal country-wide after a 95-year prohibition. The bill now only awaits royal assent from the Governor General to be signed into law. Canada is the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize marijuana.
During Question Period Wednesday afternoon, Justin Trudeau confirmed that Canadians can expect a full roll-out of legalization October 17, 2018 — several months after the projected July 1 date, but far sooner than some Canadians expected.
After the Liberal government rejected 13 of the Senate’s amendments to The Cannabis Act last week, odds of the bill getting passed before the fall (or even this year) were looking slim. Instead of bouncing the bill back and forth like they could have, however, the Senate held a vote which passed 52 to 29 with two abstentions, putting Canada one step closer to a legalization date. The Act has a built-in eight- to twelve-week buffer period after Royal Assent is given to allow provinces time to finalize the logistics of their legalization and distribution plans.
For some, the new development means October 17 is going to be lit, but the government is focusing on how legalization and regulation will make for better marijuana education, less access for teens and lower organized crime rates. Justin Trudeau tweeted after the Senate vote that this next step marks a “promise kept” by the Liberal government.
It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2018
For all the excitement from the general public and Liberal government, some marijuana activists aren’t happy with the legislation. Jodie Emery — a cannabis activist who frequently voices her disapproval of the government’s current legalization plan — told CTV that the change doesn’t decriminalize marijuana in the way she and many other activists would like to see.
“The overall message is, ‘Yeah, Canada legalized cannabis, hooray,’ but the actual details is where there are a lot of devils,” Emery said, “The civil liberties advocates, the lawyers, the people who represent the marginalized Indigenous, the youth, the poor — the victims of prohibition — we aren’t celebrating today. Where is our apology? Where is our amnesty?”
Emery is concerned that the new legislation doesn’t address people who have already been convicted of cannabis-related crimes. The government has said that they are first focusing on repealing and replacing laws surrounding marijuana and will later address previous convictions.