Canada Moves One Step Closer to Federal Marijuana Legalization

It seems Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s dream of federal marijuana legalization in Canada may actually become a reality by his planned date of July 2018. In a landslide vote, Canadian MPs passed the Liberal government’s bill to legalize cannabis on Monday evening, sending the legislation down the hall to the Senate for further study and debate.

Cannabis in Canada

Justin Trudeau has long been a staunch supporter of legal marijuana in Canada. Back in 2013, the Canadian Prime Minister publicly state his views, stating he was in full favor of total legalization, not just decriminalization. He also noted that federal prohibition on recreational use was ill-advised.

Canada already has a national medical marijuana program. Even though an increasing number of U.S. states are implementing medical marijuana programs, this is something we have yet to achieve.

Earlier this year, Bill C-45 (more commonly known as The Cannabis Act) was introduced and supported by both Liberals and Conservatives. This week, the Canadian House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favor of Bill C-45. The final vote was 200 MPs in favor, with 82 against.

However, federal marijuana legalization isn’t set in stone just yet. A last-ditch Conservative effort to delay the bill failed by a vote of 83 to 199. That doesn’t mean they won’t try again. The bill now has to travel to the Senate, where it might not garner as much support as it did in the House of Commons.

There are rumors that Conservatives are planning to delay the bill once it reaches the Senate, therefore knocking federal marijuana legalization off its projected timeline.

Some senators claim the reason for delaying is that individual provinces will simply not be ready for full legalization by the time July 2018 rolls around. They are instead suggesting pushing back the date to July 2019.

What does this mean for the U.S.?

Don’t be too disheartened, though. If the bill does pass through the Senate and is successful in Canada, it will set a precedent the United States government will be hard-pressed to ignore. It remains to be seen whether we will see any movement towards legalization under the current administration but that doesn’t mean future administrations won’t be more liberal in their views on federal marijuana legalization in the United States.

For now, cannabis advocates everywhere should revel in the victory of the bill passed through the Canadian House of Commons with such substantial support. If anything, it’s an optimistic representation of shifting attitudes towards cannabis legalization within North America.

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