Marijuana legalization: where does it stand now?

(By: Ryan Rocca)

Marijuana is going to be legal in Canada in less than nine months, making our country one of the first in the world to fully legalize and regulate the drug.

With that, where does the legalization process stand?

A parliamentary committee recently finished reviewing Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, and has made some amendments to the bill.

The committee has heard from over 100 individuals since August who spoke about what they would like to see change and also remain in Bill C-45.

Out of the committee meetings came two main changes that were announced last week. First, the committee removed any height restrictions on marijuana plants that people can grow in their homes. Previously, the Cannabis Act limited the maximum height of marijuana plants in homes to one metre.

Canadians are still restricted on the number of plants they can have, however. A person is allowed to grow four plants in their home.

The second amendment has to do with marijuana edibles. The new change will make it law that edibles will have to be sold in government-regulated stores by July 1, 2019 – exactly one year after marijuana becomes legal.

Prior to this amendment, the sale of edibles was not addressed in the Cannabis Act.

The next step for Bill C-45 is to go to the House of Commons for its third reading. This can happen as early as Oct. 23 according to CBC, but the Liberals have said they would like to reach a deal on the bill as soon as possible.

If it passes in the house after its third reading, the Cannabis Act will then head off to the Senate for another review.

Until then, this is more of what we know so far about what legalization will look like here in Ontario, using information released from the Ontario and federal governments:

• You will need to be at least 19 years old to purchase and possess marijuana.

• You will be limited to possessing a maximum of 30 grams at a time.

• Marijuana will be legally sold at 150 government-run stores in Ontario, with 40 of them opening by summer 2018.

• If you are not able to access a store to purchase marijuana, you will also be able to order it online.

• All marijuana sales will be managed by the cannabis control board, meaning non-government dispensaries will be shut down.

• Marijuana will have to be used only in private residences, but the Ontario government said it will explore the possibility of allowing marijuana consumption at establishments like cafes in the future.

• If you consume marijuana in public, you could be fined.

• The price for legal weed in Ontario is still not determined, but Finance Minister Charles Sousa said it will be “competitive” and may be around $10 per gram.

• According to Sousa, Ontario can expect more than $100 million of tax revenue to be generated from marijuana sales every year.

• If you are caught selling marijuana to a minor, you could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

• There will be very tough punishments for driving while high.

(Header photo courtesy of CBC, Getty Images)

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