Canada to legalize marijuana from October 17: Justin Trudeau

Vastavam web: Marijuana will be legal nationwide in Canada starting October 17 in a move that should take market share away from organised crime and protect the country’s youth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said. The Senate gave final passage to the bill to legalise cannabis on Tuesday, legislation that will make Canada only the second country in the world to make pot legal across the country. Trudeau said provincial and territorial governments need the time to prepare for retail sales. The prime minister said at a news conference that the goal is to take a significant part of the market share away from organized crime.

“Over the following months and indeed years we will completely replace or almost completely replace the organized crime market on that,” he said. Canada is following the lead of Uruguay in allowing a nationwide, legal marijuana market, although each Canadian province is working up its own rules for pot sales. The federal government and the provinces also still need to publish regulations that will govern the cannabis trade.

“The legislation is transformative,” said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, adding it “marks a wholesale shift in how our country approaches cannabis, leaving behind a failed model of prohibition.” She urged Canadians to follow the existing law until the Cannabis Act comes into force. The Canadian provinces of 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.

“Provinces can set their own laws. If individuals are challenging that law, they can challenge it,” Wilson-Raybould said. Trudeau said the government won’t discuss pardons of past convictions until legalization is in effect. Trudeau said they are going to treat it like wine and tobacco, noting that few people will cultivate it at home, but it’s necessary to fight organized crime.

Trudeau promised to legalize it during the 2015 election and had set a goal of July 1 for it. The provinces pleaded for more time. Canadian marijuana stocks have rallied in anticipation of legalization and jumped again on Wednesday. In the neighbouring U.S., nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana. California, home to one in eight Americans, launched the United States’ biggest legal marijuana marketplace on January 1.