OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – The federal government is basking in the hazy glow of its plan to legalize recreational marijuana, but it is reminding Canadians that pot remains illegal until the Cannabis Act actually goes into effect.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced weed will be legal in this country as of Oct. 17.
Speaking on Parliament Hill, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also says the government is still working on companion legislation dealing with impaired driving, but driving under the influence of drugs has always been and will remain illegal.
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. The legislation was first introduced more than 14 months ago.
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.
She also touched on amnesty for people who have prior pot convictions on their record. She adds they have had conversations about it but the focus right now is on the legalization.
Meantime, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who was also on hand for today’s news conference, stopped short of announcing the date when the new law would go into effect.
It’s expected, however, that Canadians will be able to legally purchase and consume recreational marijuana by mid-September at the latest.
BC’s Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says now that the bill has finally passed, provinces and territories can look forward to what the “official regulations” will be.
“The province will be ready. We’ll have our framework in place. Once C-45 has been given royal assent then we will have the time to ensure that the federal regulations are in place in terms of what it means for the province,” he explains. “The fact that that’s done means now we can move ahead with some of the key aspects with provincial legislation.”
Farnworth adds there’s still a lot of work ahead for the province, including addressing the concerns around impaired driving.
“The province has been training police officers in the use of drug impaired technology and getting ready for it, but there’s a lot of questions that we’re still waiting for answer from the federal government.”
Count Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson as relieved the federal government has set a date for legalizing recreational marijuana across Canada.
“We’re working with the province as well on making sure that the whole system, from federal, provincial to local is aligned, makes sense and ultimately, we get a system that is safe for the community,” he says.
“We will definitely be able to adapt and shift into a new system. We’ve had to create our own system with dispensaries here to ensure that we had a system that was functional on the ground in Vancouver and still protected kids, but having a federal regime is desperately needed.”
Robertson adds he’s looking forward to some of the burden being taken off city staff and police–now that Ottawa’s doing most of the heavy lifting.