The Canadian Federal Government has confirmed that it won’t be able to meet its July 2018 deadline for legalizing recreational cannabis. That means sale of legalized cannabis for recreational use is delayed until a new launch date is set.
According to Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the Senate will not hold its final vote on the cannabis bill until June 7, which is later than what Liberals had initially planned.
If the senators recommend that amendments be made to the draft legislation, it is going to be sent back for review to the House of Commons lower chamber. It will then need to go back to the Senate.
“You will see just by doing the math that legalization is certainly not likely to happen in July.” – Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor
It should be noted that the House of Commons is due to take a summer break on June 22 and won’t be back until September 17.
Petitpas Taylor also noted that provinces and territories made it very clear that they will need eight to 12 weeks to implement cannabis regulations. Additionally, the new cannabis retail system will need time to be able to start working properly.
“You will see just by doing the math that legalization is certainly not likely to happen in July,” Petitpas Taylor said when asked for a definite date. “Cannabis legalization,” she added, “isn’t a date but a process… and we want this process to go as seamlessly as possible.”
Assuming that the Senate passes Bill C-45 by June 7, royal assent will immediately follow. However, it will take two to three months before recreational cannabis will actually be available in retail stores.
In other words, the earliest possible time for recreational cannabis to become available will be in early August.
Sen. Peter Harder, the Trudeau government’s representative in the Senate, struck a deal with other Senate factions and part of this deal was for the initial debate regarding the bill to continue until March 22. This new deadline is three weeks beyond the March 1 deadline that Harder had announced earlier this week. But since this new deadline already includes a two-week parliamentary break, senators will, in reality, get only three extra days of debate.
First ‘Group of Seven’ country to nationally legalize recreational cannabis
Once recreational cannabis legislation is implemented in Canada, it will be the first among the Group of Seven countries to completely legalize cannabis on a national scale.
The Group of Seven consists of countries with the world’s largest advanced economies. The others in the G7 are France, the United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
Delay in legalization considered a victory for Conservatives
The delayed timeline for the legalization of recreational cannabis is considered a victory for the Conservatives. They had demanded more time for the government to study the implications of pushing legalization.
Conservative senators had already expressed worry that legalizing recreational cannabis will endanger the youth, complicate the work of the police force, increase weed smoking rates, strengthen the cannabis black market, and add to the backlog of drug possession cases in court.
The earliest possible time for recreational cannabis to become available will be in early August.
According to Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith in a statement, he is pleased that they have secured more time for the Senate to thoroughly evaluate the cannabis legislation.
Some of Canada’s 10 provinces, as well as the police force, have also contended that the original timeline that the liberals had set out was too tight.
Meanwhile, the defenders of the bill have argued that the country doesn’t have the luxury of time, explaining that illegal cannabis use will only continue to be unabated in the absence of federal regulations.
It can be recalled that the Liberals made recreational cannabis legalization part of their successful election campaign in 2015. They had pointed out that legalizing the drug would significantly reduce cannabis-related crimes and keep it out of the youth’s hands.