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Recreational marijuana to become legal Oct. 17

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 21st, 2018

Recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada as of Oct. 17.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons, which is expected to rise for the summer break after Wednesday.

He says the government has delayed the legalization schedule in order to give the provinces and territories more time to implement their regimes.

The federal government is reminding Canadians that up until Oct. 17, pot remains illegal in this country until the Cannabis Act goes into effect.

“I urge all Canadians to continue to follow the existing law until the Cannabis Act comes into force,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told a news conference Wednesday in the foyer of the House of Commons.

The government’s companion legislation on impaired driving is also expected to pass soon, said Wilson-Raybould, but she added that driving under the influence of drugs has always been – and will remain – against the law in Canada.

Bill C-46, a companion bill that Wilson-Raybould predicts will give Canada the strongest impaired-driving rules in the world, will also become law “in the near future,” she said.

Until then, “I would like to also remind the public that driving while impaired by drugs is, and will remain, illegal.”

It was clear, however, that there are still more questions than answers about what Canada’s nascent legal-pot landscape will look like – how police will test motorists, what to do about those with prior marijuana convictions and just how the rules governing home cultivation will work.

Quebec and Manitoba have already decided to ban home-grown pot, even though the federal bill specifies that individuals can grow up to four plants per dwelling.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to end its opposition to certain aspects of the federal bill, most notably the plan to permit Canadians to cultivate marijuana plants at home. A proposed Senate amendment would have prevented legal challenges to their constitutional right to do so.

Wilson-Raybould called the legislation – which still requires royal assent to become law – “transformative” and predicted it would protect young people and keep organized crime out of the pot market.

“C-45 marks a wholesale shift in how our country approaches cannabis,” she said.

“It leaves behind a failed model of prohibition, a model that has made organized crime rich and young people vulnerable…. our shift in policy will protect youth from the health and safety risks of cannabis and keep those same criminals from profiting from its production, distribution and sale.”

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