Canada legalizes recreational marijuana after Senate passes ‘historic’ legislation

Two women smoke weed on Parliament Hill on 4/20 in Ottawa Ontario

The Senate gave their final blessings to the bill to legalize cannabis on Tuesday, making Canada only the second country, next to Uruguay, to legally authorize the drug nationwide.

Recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada after the Senate passed a "historic" bill on Tuesday with a vote of 52-29.

"Obviously, the current approach - the current prohibition of marijuana - has not worked to protect our kids, to keep the money out of the pockets of organised crime, and that's why we're bringing in a new legalised framework around marijuana", Trudeau said on Wednesday".

'Today, we change that.

The bill fulfills a campaign promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was elected in 2015.

As provinces decide local rules of implementation, marijuana availability will vary across the country.

For each gram of cannabis sold at or below USD 10, a Can USD 1 excise tax will be imposed, and distributed between the federal government (receiving a quarter of the funds) and the provinces.

While Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said she was thrilled the Senate approved the bill, saying: "We're on the cusp of a sensible, responsible and equitable cannabis policy".

The country is the first in the G7 to legalise the drug's recreational use.

Speaking on Parliament Hill, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also says the government is still working on companion legislation dealing with impaired driving, but driving under the influence of drugs has always been and will remain illegal. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors. Currently, nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for adults in some form in The United States, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Canada is the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on marijuana use.

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.

Advocates argued that putting the limit at 21 would encourage a black market and drive youths into the hands of criminals. "I know that some of these frustrations are rooted in deeply held policy views and personal values and that much disagreement will not end with our vote on this message, whatever its result".

But some health experts have anxious that the lower age will encourage use of a substance that can have long-term consequences on still-maturing brains.

"We recognize that anyone who is now purchasing marijuana is participating in illegal activity that is funding criminal organizations and street gangs", he said in January.

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