Update [June 8 @ 14:56]: The Act was passed in the Senate of Canada on June 7, 2018. After reconciliation of the House and Senate bills, the Act will be effective in the summer of 2018.
One of the biggest milestones in the Canadian history of legalized weed might come into play this summer.
As of right now, marijuana remains a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. Unless otherwise regulated for production and distribution for medical purposes, it is subject to offenses under that act. Processing and selling marijuana for non-medical purposes is still illegal everywhere in Canada.
The Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45, is an act that was introduced to Canadian Parliament in 2017. This act would legalize cannabis nationwide when combined with Bill C-46, an act to amend the criminal code.
Under the Cannabis Act, should it come into force, adults who are 18 years or older would be able to legally possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form and share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults.
This act would also allow adults to purchase dried or fresh cannabis and oil from a provincially-licensed retailer, grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use and make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home provided that organic solvents are not used.
The Cannabis Act will also see strict regulation under federal, provincial and territorial governments who would share responsibility for overseeing the new system. The federal government’s responsibilities are to include setting strict requirements for producers, setting industry-wide rules and standards, including the types of cannabis products that will be allowed for sale, the pacakge and labelling requirements, standardizing serving sizes and potency
Despite the federal government’s efforts to make the July 1 target to pass the Cannabis Act, new reports say that the bill will need to be delayed to ensure that provinces and territories have the capacity to get the products in their shops. The senate will vote on the Cannabis Act on June 7.
Until then, Canadian cities are awaiting the regulations to take effect. In an email, Constable Lorraine Edwards, Hamilton Police Media Relations Officer, noted that until the legislation is passed, Hamilton Police will continue to enforce current laws.
“Hamilton Police is currently enforcing the laws outlined under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act in relation to all listed drugs including marijuana,” said Const. Edwards. “Until such regulation or legislation changes, we will continue to enforce the laws outlined in the CDSA.”
The rise in local dispensaries has seemed to significantly blurred the lines of legality in Canada over the past few months. According to the Government of Canada, dispensaries are not licensed by Health Canada under the current law, and are illegal.
Within the past year, the number of marijuana dispensaries operating in Hamilton has nearly tripled despite increased bylaw enforcement efforts. There are now nearly 50 dispensaries operating in the city.
Ward 2 councillor, Jason Farr, has noted that the number of illegal dispensaries in this city may be affected with the enactment of the Cannabis Act.
“The growing number of dispensaries may be affected by a motion I successfully moved last year,” said Farr. “[the motion] respected a radial separation between establishments. At that time, the province had not yet announced its plans to exclusively sell through an LCBO model. The coming results of the Provincial Election may bring back the possible radial separation by-law to council.”
The Cannabis Act is not set to take effect for another few months. In the meantime, cities are planning the logistics behind operating under this framework.
“The reality is the federal government has decided to legalize marijuana in Canada,” said Farr. “It’s our job as a municipal government to ensure that once the federal legislation takes effect, we mitigate any issues that may arise and I believe we are well prepared to do so.”