The federal government introduced legislation April 13 to legalize and strictly regulate the use and sale of marijuana, also known as cannabis, in Canada.
The proposed legislation is the fulfillment of an election promise by the Liberal government and comes after consultation with law enforcement, health and safety experts.
“The Cannabis Act will help keep our children safe and address the health risks associated with cannabis,” said Canada’s Minister of Health Jane Philpott.
“The proposed legislation would allow Canadian adults to possess and purchase regulated and quality-controlled cannabis products, while prohibiting sales to young Canadians and any products, promotion, packaging or labelling that could be appealing to young people,” she said.
Following passage by parliament and Royal Assent into law, the Cannabis Act would allow adults in Canada to legally possess and use regulated amounts of cannabis.
While legal for adults, the proposed bill would make it illegal to sell cannabis to minors. It also creates significant penalties for anyone who engages youth in cannabis-related criminal offences.
“I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis,” said Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice Bill Blair in a press release.
“In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes,” he said, “Today’s plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this.
“It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”
While the federal government is working towards legalization with the proposed Cannabis Act, many of the important details are being left for the provinces to decide.
The provinces will be able to set the minimum age as long as it is 18-years-of-age or older.
They are also responsible for the creation of the distribution and use regulations.
Following the introduction of the bill, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley released a statement in response.
“While the federal government has made the decision to legalize, many important decisions will be left to the province,” she said, “These decisions include where cannabis can be sold and where it can be consumed.”
She said that the NDP government will be reaching out to Albertan’s to consult as they prepare legislation to regulate cannabis in the province.
“As our province adapts to this federal decision, we want to ensure that the views and values of Albertans are reflected in the choices we make,” said Ganley.
“The health and safety of Albertans is our top priority,” she said.