Senate passes legal weed legislation, pot to be legalized after 8-12 week grace period

A stock photo of marijuana buds. Photo courtesy: Dank Depot

Canada will have legal marijuana later this year.

The Senate passed Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, 52-29 Tuesday by a 52-29 vote. Two senators abstained. Provinces will get two to three months after the bill is passed to implement the new legal cannabis regime.

The delay means legalization won’t come into effect by mid-September at the latest. It also means the federal government will miss its July 1 target for legal cannabis.

The Bill had been previously passed by the House of Commons, but the Senate sent it back with amendments. Of the 46 amendments passed by the Senate, the House accepted many, mostly technical ones, according to the Canadian Press. But the House rejected 13 other amendments, including one that would have allowed provinces to ban people from growing up to four plants at home. The federal government had said that growing plants at home was a key piece in the legislation aimed at disrupting the black market.

Other amendments rejected included one that would have created a public registry of investors in cannabis companies, and another that would have banned the distribution of branded products, such as T-shirts, hats or phone cases, that would depict a logo of a cannabis company.

“I’m feeling just great,” Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, told CBC.

“We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada. The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government. Now we can start to tackle some of the harms of cannabis. We can start to be proactive in public education. We’ll see the end of criminalization and we can start addressing Canada’s $7-billion illegal market. These are good things for Canada.”

Conservative senators were displeased with the passage of the Bill.

“We have a bill that has an overarching goal to reduce the marijuana use among young people in this country and what it does right off the get go is normalizes it,” Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos, former Speaker of the Senate told CBC.

“There’s nothing in this bill that indicates to me that we’re tackling the problem, which is increased marijuana use among young people.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his approval following the Bill’s passage in the upper house.

“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that,” he wrote.

“Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”