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Senate Legalizes Cannabis

Tuesday, July 9, 2018 will go down in history as senators have voted in favour of Bill C-45, which paves the way for cannabis to be available for lawful, recreational use by early September.

Ninety years of prohibition came to an end when 52 senators voted yes, with 29 opposing the bill and two abstentions.

Originally, it was thought that retail sales would launch by July 1, but hopes of that faded after Senate requested further time to review certain aspects of the bill. Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with his cabinet will choose the date, accounting for time that the provinces need to prepare themselves.

Amendments Discussed

The road to legalization was a rocky one, with Senate proposing 46 amendments to the Cannabis Act. The government rejected 13 of those only last week, including one that would have enabled provinces to ban home cultivation of the plant, which included Manitoba, Nunavut and Quebec. Trudeau himself said of this, “One of the strong recommendations by experts was that we ensure personal cultivation of four plants at home.”

“We understand there are questions and concerns about this, and we understand also that it will be important to study the impacts of what we’re doing and whether there can be changes made in three years, but we need to move forward on better protecting our communities.”

A motion was moved on Tuesday that would have seen the home cultivation ban returned to the bill, but it was defeated by 45 votes to 35.

It wasn’t the only amendment stripped away. A proposal to create a public registry of cannabis company investors, created by Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan to ward off criminals from using offshore tax havens to invest in the industry, was rejected.

Another significant amendment also quashed would have banned the sale and distribution of branded hats, bags, t-shirts and other “swag” that would have displayed cannabis company logos.

The vote sees Canada become the first G7 country to legalize marijuana.