NEWS

Canada Moves To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is following through on a campaign promise to end pot prohibition.

13/04/2017 11:57 PM IST | Updated 14/04/2017 2:06 AM IST

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation on Thursday that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana next year. 

The proposed rules would take effect in July 2018 and allow Canadians to grow up to four plants in their home or to purchase dried flowers and other cannabis products from licensed shops. People over 18 would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of weed. Edible products would be allowed later, the government said in a statement.

Trudeau promised voters during the 2015 elections that his government would end prohibition of pot, the CBC reported.

If the changes becomes law, Canada would become the second country, after Uruguay, to completely legalize cannabis for personal use, The New York Times reported. Canada began allowing marijuana for medical purposes in 2001, according to USA Today.

Legalized pot would reduce organized crime’s earnings from drug trafficking, the government’s statement said. Enforcement in provinces, territories and cities could be tailored to local concerns, the government said. 

Restrictions would be put in place to limit young people’s exposure and to reduce the risk of impaired driving. Selling cannabis to minors would be illegal, subjecting dealers to a 14-year sentence. Drivers wouldn’t be allowed on the road within two hours of consuming an intoxicating amount of pot. The legal level hasn’t been defined yet. 

Critics said the legislation didn’t do enough to safeguard Canada’s youth. 

“This piece of legislation puts the Canadian family at risk,” Pamela McColl, of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, told The Washington Post. “Youth already think marijuana is harmless, and now we are giving them the government’s seal of approval. This risk will spill over into even younger kids.”

Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, contrasted Trudeau’s policy with the ominous rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on recreation marijuana. 

“While the Canadian government is moving in the direction of legalization and regulation, the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seem more intent on reviving outdated and erroneous Drug War rhetoric than allowing science and facts to dictate public policy,” Altieri said in a statement. 

Matt Ferner contributed reporting. 

This article has been updated to include comments about the government’s proposal.

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