(CNS) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada on Oct. 17.
Trudeau made the proclamation during question period Wednesday, saying the provinces wanted more time to implement the new regime than originally anticipated.
“We heard from provinces and territories who told us they needed more time to transition to this new framework, so our government will continue to work in full partnership with them, to ensure the smooth and orderly implementation of this new law across Canada,” Trudeau told reporters during an end-of-session news conference.
Trudeau said that though legalization will be a process and not “a single-day event,” he expects that as of the date the new regime comes into force, all stakeholders will be ready to roll.
This announcement comes after a historic vote in the Senate Tuesday night to pass Bill C-45, the government’s legislation to legalize cannabis.
After more than a year of intensive study in both the House and Senate, the bill cleared the final legislative hurdle Tuesday evening, passing by a vote of 52 to 29 with two abstentions.
For a full accounting of how things unfolded ahead of the vote, including a final failed push to insist on allowing provinces to ban home cultivation, click here.
The bill still needs to receive Royal Assent, which is scheduled for Thursday morning.
Oct. 17 will be the day that the major social policy change will come into force.
On CTV’s Power Play, Bill Blair, the government’s point person on pot, said the date was extended after discussions with the provinces and territories. Blair said because they have been given the ability to set regulations in their jurisdictions as to how a legalized marijuana regime will operate, this extra time will allow for the final set up of retail establishments and get online systems up and running.
“We’re very appreciative of the effort everybody’s making, but I think Canadians expect us to do this in a responsible way and that’s what we’re aiming to do,” Blair said.
Mark Zekulin, president of Canopy Growth, told CTV’s Power Play host Don Martin that while they would have been ready for a July implementation, “we’ll take the breathing room.”
One of the biggest outlying concerns is public education about what the new law allows for and what it doesn’t.
Speaking about Bill C-45 passing, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould cautioned Canadians that the current prohibition and laws about cannabis will remain in place until the date of implementation, and urged people to follow the law until then.
For a comprehensive rundown of how each province is approaching legalized marijuana, click here.
The legislation — an electoral promise Trudeau and the Liberal Party –allows adults in Canada to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. It sets out parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of the drug. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors. The proposed federal law spells out that it will be illegal for anyone younger than 18 to buy pot, but allows for provinces and territories to set a higher minimum age.
As for the rejected Senate amendment to allow provinces to ban growing marijuana at home Wilson-Raybould said the federal government does not intend to challenge the provinces that plan to move ahead with an outright prohibition on pot plants at home, saying it’ll be up to individuals to challenge the provincial laws if they want to be able to do as the federal law says, and grow up to four plants.
Senate passes companion drug-driving bill
On Wednesday afternoon Bill C-46, the impaired driving bill that was introduced alongside Bill C-45, also passed.
The Senate agreed to pass the bill as-is and not insist on its amendments.
This legislation proposes changes to the impaired driving laws to give police new powers to conduct roadside intoxication tests, including oral fluid drug tests, and would make it illegal to drive within two hours of being over the legal limit.
The Senate had wanted to remove the provision that allowed police to conduct random roadside alcohol tests, but the House of Commons sent a message to the Upper Chamber saying it would be rejecting that change, despite accepting others.
The government had hoped throughout the process that the two bills would pass in close succession.