There’s bad news for those hoping to blaze up north this summer. Today, the Canadian federal government announced that recreational marijuana in Canada will be delayed. The government will not cast the final vote on bill C-45 until July 7th. And it will take 8 to 12 weeks following that vote for Canada’s provinces and territories to prepare their own policies and infrastructure for retail marijuana sales.
Two significant bills comprise Canada’s marijuana legalization initiative introduced last year on April 14th: C-45 and C-46. The first one legislates the sale, cultivation, and use of marijuana. The second one toughens laws to stop driving under the influence. On July 7th, the Canadian Senate will be voting on C-45, the more contentious of the two bills.
Under these new laws, Canadians 18 and older can have up to 30 grams of cannabis, purchase weed from licensed retail locations, and grow up to four marijuana plants.
Politics. The conservative Tory party has been pushing for more time to study the impacts of legal weed on law enforcement, national health, and minors. Conservatives view the July 7th date—as opposed to the May date proposed by Senate liberal Peter Harder—as a victory.
The police force, too, asked for more time to prepare for implementing this new legislation. They also requested that the government rethink letting people grow their own marijuana at home.
After hearing the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s concerns and passing bill C-45, the federal government will still require royal assent to implement the bill. Since Canada is a part of the British Commonwealth, a representative of the Queen of England must give a bill royal assent for it to become an Act of Parliament. This won’t really slow down the process, but it is an extra-legal step.
Next, each territory and province creates its own policy to implement bill C-45. This means that provinces and territories have to vote on local legislation and build infrastructure before weed hits the market. For example, provinces can set their own age restrictions for cannabis, like they do with tobacco. Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor estimates that this will take eight to twelve weeks.
Only after legislation passes the federal, provincial and commonwealth levels can Canadians buy marijuana. In all likelihood, this won’t happen until late August or September.
The fact that recreational marijuana in Canada will be delayed will take a toll on summer fun and legal marijuana sales. For starters, you won’t be able to legally celebrate Canada day, July 1st, with the THC session and ounces of weed it deserves. This means another beautiful summer without recreational cannabis. Legally, of course.
More seriously, though, experts value the illegal marijuana industry at $7 billion in Canada alone. As long as cannabis is illegal recreationally, much of this money will go to organized crime, instead of boosting local, taxpaying business. Concerned by the economic consequences of this delay, Independent Senator Tony Dean from Ontario proposed imposing a time limit on conservatives if they delay voting further.
Few are surprised that recreational marijuana in Canada will be delayed. Luckily, the majority of Canadians, the Prime Minister, and the Liberal party support legalization. This means that it’s not a question of if, but when, Canadians will smoke freely. And it looks like not until the end of this summer.