Canadian advocates for marijuana reform will have an extra something to celebrate this April 20, the world’s annual day of recognizing all things cannabis. Or fans of the drug may have a new reason to continue the fight against prohibition, depending on what happens this Thursday (April 13).
Exactly one week ahead of 4/20 2017, the federal government is scheduled to table in Parliament legislation that will legalize the recreational sale of marijuana in Canada.
Will the new rules allow people to grow marijuana in their homes? Will they allow the drug to be sold in storefront dispensaries like those that have proliferated in Vancouver? Or require its distribution to occur only at already established venues for controlled substances, such as pharmacies and liquor stores? Will whoever is permitted to sell recreational marijuana be allowed to do so in various forms such as edibles and oils?
Or will the answers to all of those questions be left up to each individual province and territory?
According to the Globe and Mail, which only cited anonymous sources, the Liberal government’s legislation is likely to control marijuana sales more tightly than the distribution of alcohol, despite the latter being substantially more harmful to individuals and society.
While provincial politicians will likely get to decide many aspects of how marijuana will be distributed in their respective jurisdictions, the Globe has reported that the federal government is creating a number of rules that will apply across the country.
For example, it’s expected that marijuana distributors will not be allowed to advertise on television and that plain-packaging requirements will likely make marijuana sales resemble tobacco products more than the colourful displays that can accompany a bottle of vodka.
Age restrictions for the purchase of marijuana are likely to match each province’s legal requirements for alcohol sales, meaning that in B.C., the minimum age to purchase cannabis will probably be 19.
The federal government has long maintained its primary reason for legalizing marijuana is to take the market out of the hands of organized crime. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that will require selling cannabis at a price that is equal to or cheaper than its going rates on the black market.
That legislation is scheduled for tabling in Parliament on April 13 does not mean that marijuana sales will become legal in Canada on that day.
The bill will still have to make its way to a vote into law. Once that happens, the next step will be for each province to work out the details of distribution, sales, and related regulations. That means it will still likely be more than a year at the very minimum before recreational marijuana sales are actually legal in British Columbia.