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Canada just became the 2nd country in the world to legalize marijuana

Canada marijuana

Jeremy Berke  25 m

  • Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana nationwide. Legal sales are set to begin October 17.
  • The bill passed Canada’s Senate 52-29 on Tuesday evening.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during his 2015 campaign to legalize marijuana.
  • Marijuana stocks surged on the news on Wednesday morning.

Canada is the second country in the world to legalize marijuana, paving the way for recreational sales throughout the country.

Canada’s Upper House of Parliament on Tuesday evening approved the revised bill 52-29, making Canada the first G7 country to legalize marijuana. Uruguay did so in 2013.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that legalization would officially take effect on October 17, citing provincial requests for more time to develop retail infrastructure.

“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits,” Trudeau said in a tweet on Tuesday evening. “Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”

What the bill does

Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, legalizes marijuana but leaves it up to each province to decide how to sell it. Some provinces, like Ontario, are planning on provincially run outlets, while others, like Alberta, will open up marijuana retail to the private sector.

The federal government set a minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana, though some provinces have indicated they will raise the age to 19, mirroring liquor-purchase laws. The bill makes the distribution and sale of marijuana to minors an offense.

marijuanaIt’s Canada’s moment. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Recreational sales are expected to begin in eight to 12 weeks, according to Reuters.

The bill was part of a promise that Trudeau’s Liberal Party made during the 2015 campaign to keep marijuana out of young people’s hands and move the illicit market into a regulated framework.

“I’m feeling just great,” Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in Canada’s Senate, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “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.”

Activists applauded the move

Cannabis activists cheered the move on Wednesday morning.

“Canada should be applauded for taking bold and decisive steps towards ending the failed prohibition of marijuana,” Hannah Hetzer, the senior international policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “Canada’s progress will galvanize support for drug policy reforms in the US and all around the world.”

Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, echoed Hetzer’s sentiment.

“We applaud Canada for showing federal legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy,” Altieri said in a statement.

Marijuana stocks are surging

Marijuana stocks surged on the news on Wednesday morning.

The Canadian Marijuana Index, an aggregate measurement of all publicly listed marijuana stocks in Canada, was up 3.3% as of 10:45 a.m. The overall North American index, which includes US stocks, was up 2.3%.

Golden Leaf Holdings, a cannabis company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, was the biggest gainer, with the stock surging 6.8%.

Legalized marijuana is expected to be a boon for Canada’s economy. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, one of the country’s largest banks, predicts that Canada’s legal marijuana market will be a $6.5 billion industry by 2020.

Several Canadian marijuana firms, including Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth Corporation, are seeing a wave of investor excitement around marijuana legalization. Marijuana companies have been capitalizing on that liquidity to go on acquisition sprees.

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Canada to be first G7 country to legalize weed – Gov-General

© Steve Dipaola

 

Next year Canada could become the first country in the G7 group of the world’s leading economies to legalize marijuana as the government announces its plans in a speech to parliament.

The freshly-elected Liberal government has reaffirmed their pledge to legalize marijuana as Governor-General David Johnson addressed the parliament with a speech that outlined the legislative agenda for the coming year.

“The Government will introduce legislation that… will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana,” Johnson said, Canadian Global News reports. He did not elaborate on how the government plans to regulate or restrict access to the soft drug.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to the Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also includes a provision suggesting that the justice minister should work “with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

Trudeau said that legalizing marijuana would fix a “failed system” and help remove the “criminal element” from marijuana production and trade, adding that Canadians would benefit from studying the experience of the US state of Colorado and Washington, which recently adopted similar laws.

The PM has stuck to that position since becoming the leader of the Liberal party in 2013. He says his support for the legalization of marijuana is influenced by the fate of his late brother, who was charged with drug possession for having “a tiny amount” of weed before his death in an avalanche in 1998.

Legalizing pot was a high profile election promise made by Trudeau during the latest election campaign that raised the Liberal Party to power after almost a decade of the Conservative rule. Two previous Conservative administrations also made such election promises but failed to live up to them.

In Canada, people are allowed to use medical marijuana in dried and edible forms on condition they do not smoke it. Growing marijuana at home is also legal, according to Global News.

Apart from legalizing marijuana, the new government also plans to cut taxes for citizens with middle income as well as to provide higher child benefits to the needy, which would be financed by a tax increase on the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.

The government also announced plans to provide significant investments in infrastructure, cut military spending, limit the budget deficit to 10 billion Canadian dollars ($7.5 billion) per year as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Cannabis Culture News LIVE: Marc Emery is Not Free Yet

 

 

VIDEO HERE!

 

POT TV – Watch Cannabis Culture News LIVE for the latest news and views on pot politics and the marijuana community.

In this episode: Though Marc Emery’s official prison release date has just passed, he has not actually been released and may not be for sometime. We discuss the details with Marc’s wife Jodie Emery. Justin Trudeau’s latest endorsement comes from none other than Marc Emery, the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” – what’s he smoking? Facebook Post by the Conservative Party of Canada by CPC.

Also on the show: Cannabis Day 2014 and Redbeard’s Great Canadian Glass Gathering!

Click here to watch PAST EPISODES of CCN LIVE.

Join the Pot TV Livestream chat to have your say during the show.

Jeremiah Vandermeer is editor of Cannabis Culture. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Emery said he holds a “moral objection” against individuals who once helped imprison people for petty drug offences now profiting off the sale of marijuana.

Marc Emery’s top picks for Canadian politicians go to the Greens and NDP. But he doesn’t want you to vote for either of those parties in next year’s federal election.

 

“Elizabeth May and Libby Davies are two of my favourite MPs,” Emery told the Straight. “But there is a time when you have to make decisions about what’s really important, and stopping Stephen Harper and replacing his government is the ultimate priority.”

Emery was speaking from Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi, where he’s serving the final month of a five-year sentence for selling cannabis seeds. In a wide-ranging telephone interview, the so-called Prince of Pot said a voter drive will be at the centre of a cross-country tour he’s planned for the fall of 2015.

“We’ll be trying to get young people out,” Emery continued. “It’s really important to motivate them to go out and vote for the Liberal party, because they could also split the vote between the Greens and the NDP, and I really don’t want to see that happen.”

Emery’s relatively-newfound support for the Liberals is firmly rooted in his life’s work aimed at ending the prohibition of marijuana. In November 2012, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau revealed that he was a “huge supporter of decriminalization”, and that he wanted Canada to take a serious look at legalizing and regulating the drug.

Emery described Trudeau’s position as “courageous and unprecedented”.

“Normally, they all wait until they’ve retired out of politics before they advocate the legalization route,” he explained. “Justin Trudeau is the only leader of a Canadian political party with any chance of forming the government who’s ever done this. I thought it was pretty brave of him.”

Criticizing a system of prohibition

Emery didn’t have such kind words for every politician who’s made an about-face on marijuana.

In May 2014, two former high-profile B.C. politicians announced they were going to work in Canada’s booming medicinal marijuana industry. First, the province’s former top cop, Kash Heed, signed on as a security consultant for medical growers. A couple of weeks later, ex-premier Mike Harcourt took a position as chairperson of True Leaf Medicine Inc.

Emery said he holds a “moral objection” against individuals who once helped imprison people for petty drug offences now profiting off the sale of marijuana.

“While they were in charge of administrations, they busted hundreds, if not thousands of people,” he said. “They’ve never apologized for what they did….And now here our oppressors are actually taking financial advantage.”

According to Emery, the larger issue is the legitimization of the Conservative government’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), and how those rules are being used to maintain a system of prohibition.

As of April 1, 2014, medicinal marijuana licence holders previously allowed to grow their own medicine were only permitted to purchase dried cannabis via mail order from large-scale producers. (The implementation of certain MMAR provisions has since been delayed by a court challenge and interim injunction.)

Emery argued this new system extends “extraordinary privilege” to a small group of corporations while “disenfranchising and marginalizing” people who grow small amounts of marijuana for private consumption.

“This whole medicinal marijuana business just reeks of hypocrisy,” Emery concluded. “Either we’re free and autonomous individuals who can put in our bodies what we want, or we’re not. This idea that there are somehow citizens with superior rights to others is ridiculous and unacceptable.”

Emery also described the MMAR as a form of cooptation. He predicted that companies with licences to grow medicinal marijuana could soon act as a “bulwark against legalization”.

“They’re not going to want to give up their special privilege,” Emery explained. “I fear that’s what the Conservatives have deliberately created.”

A cross-country tour in 2015

Emery is scheduled for release on July 10.

On that day, prison officials will turn him over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ahead of his pending return to Canada. It’s unknown how long he’ll be in the custody of ICE. Emery said it could take days, weeks, or more than a month, depending on the pace at which a bureaucracy processes his case.

His return to Canada will therefore likely happen in the late summer, at the border crossing at Windsor, Ontario. From there, he’ll travel to London for a few days with family. Next up are public parties planned for Toronto and then Vancouver. Emery said he’ll then be leaving Canada for an international speaking tour and vacation with his wife, Jodie.

The couple’s itinerary includes Spain, France, Ireland, and Austria, after which they will return to Vancouver. A second trip abroad planned for 2015 is expected to take them to Jamaica, Uruguay, Argentina, and South Africa.

By that time, Canada will be preparing for the 2015 federal election, which Emery said will see him and Jodie make a 30-stop cross-country tour beginning in early September.

Asked if he was at all concerned the marijuana issue could backfire and become a liability for the federal Liberals, Emery argued that Trudeau has taken a position that has growing support from the public.

“For the first time in 40 years, the majority of Canadians are highly sympathetic to my point of view,” he said.

Emery claimed he has no plans to run for office, but stated he expects politics to still consume the majority of his time once he’s free.

“Getting rid of Stephen Harper and making sure Justin Trudeau is elected along with the Liberal party is a pretty major job,” Emery said. “Really, the only job that I’m going to have in the next year.”

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