A yes vote does not make it legal to buy recreational cannabis in Canada
The Senate of Canada is currently debating Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, with a deadline for voting at midnight on June 7th. But even a positive vote does not mean that it will be legal to buy recreational cannabis in Canada.
The timeline depends on how the government deals with the amendments proposed by the Senate. For example, the Senate is recommending to restrict marketing efforts by producers.
If the government is agreeable with the amendments provided by the Senate, then there is reasonable expectation that the Cannabis Act received royal assent by the Governor General by the weekend. But this does not guaranty that any adult may start roasting kush on Friday night.
An essential part of Bill C-45 is that cannabis should be sourced from licensed producers or home grown (4 plants per household).
The provinces and territories have advised that they need 8 to 12 weeks between when the Bill receives Royal Assent and when the new laws come into force to effect an orderly transition to the new framework. This transition time is important for all levels of government, industry, law enforcement and other stakeholders to prepare for implementation of the new system.
Cannabis products will need to be packaged and labelled in a way that is compliant with the Act and regulations, and be shipped to distributors and retail stores. Retail stores also need to be ready to open, which assumes that products have been received and that staff have been trained.
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To deter criminal activity, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that there is a legal supply of quality-controlled cannabis available for sale when the Act comes into force.
Upon coming into force, adult Canadians would be able to purchase cannabis from a retailer that has been authorized by the province or territory to sell and distribute cannabis. In those provinces or territories that have yet to authorize retailers, adults would be able to purchase cannabis directly from a federally licenced producer by ordering online with secure delivery at home by mail.
As per the amendment adopted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, the Government intends to authorize the legal sale of cannabis edible products and concentrates no later than 12 months following the coming into force of the proposed legislation. By that time, regulations would be made to address the specific risks associated with these types of products. Bill C-45 is a piece of government legislation that would legalize access to cannabis in Canada. The bill would also control and regulate how cannabis is grown, distributed and sold.
Bill C-45 was introduced in the Senate and given first reading on November 28, 2017. It was passed in the House of Commons on November 27, 2017.
Bill C-45 was adopted at second reading in the Senate on March 22, 2018 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
The committee’s report, with amendments to the bill, was adopted on division on May 30, 2018.
On May 31, 2018, debate began at third reading. Pursuant to a motion adopted in the Chamber, speeches and amendments are being grouped thematically:
- May 31: issues relating to cannabis production
- June 1: issues relating to the sale and distribution of cannabis
- June 4: international issues relating to cannabis
- June 5: issues relating to criminal penalties
- June 6: issues relating to cannabis consumption, public health and matters relating to Indigenous peoples.
For those planning to follow the vote that day, rest up as it’s possible the vote could not happen until midnight. It could also be much earlier, but entirely depends on how many senators want to speak to the bill that day. Midnight would be the latest possible, as all sides agreed to vote on the bill by June 7th at the latest.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>