Canada's government is one step closer to legalizing marijuana, with the country expected to be the first G7 nation to legalize recreational use of cannabis. The senate will vote on Bill C-45 on Friday night. Two senators have abstained from voting due to their potential profiting from the industry.
Sweeping legislation is likely to result in pot shops opening up as early as late summer.
Years of studies and discussion have led up to the vote, which went through House approval already. The government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is expected to fast-track sales. Sales are expected to be available as early as 10 – 12 weeks from now.
Canadian officials are likely to warn citizens against crossing over the border into the US with marijuana due to the drug still being a Schedule 1 drug.
“We’ve very much learned from the early mistakes made by some U.S. states and other jurisdictions,” said Canadian Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “We know we have a national challenge with cannabis. We have some of the highest youth consumption rates in the world, an illegal cannabis market worth upward of $6 billion annually, we know it’s harmful for kids, especially younger kids … and we had a government that wanted to tackle those issues.”
Canada's government predicts that Canada's marijuana sales could reach $3.3 billion by 2027.
Regulations would allow people as young as 18 to buy marijuana. Sales will take place at regulated shops. Citizens will also be permitted to grow small amounts of their own marijuana at home. The province or territory that the citizen lives in will dictate the amount of pot that's allowed to be grown.
Initial drafts of the bill are calling for reducing youth cannabis use. National standards for potency testing are also being introduced. Canada's government will also set standards for packaging.
Distributors, licensed by the federal government, will be able to sell 30 grams of marijuana to a person at any given time. Amendments that have been added in the Senate version of the bill will need to go through the lower chamber for an additional approval.
Companies are already preparing to benefit from marijuana sales. Glass Blunts by Burnt Hole Products Ltd., Glassblunts.com, has created a health alternative to paper and blunt wraps that is health-friendly.
Prime Minister Trudeau pledged on the campaign trail that he would legalize the drug, and he has backed the bill. He also claims that the current system is not working and the new legislation will impede access of marijuana among young people.