Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2018
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Paul Viera


OTTAWA - Recreational marijuana use in Canada will be legal in the
coming months after legislation cleared its final hurdle Tuesday
night, marking what officials here say is a "wholesale shift" in how
the country approaches cannabis use.

Canadian officials say other technical steps remain before they can
unveil on what day the legislation, introduced over a year ago, comes
into force.

When the legislation kicks in, Canada will be the biggest national
government to legalize cannabis. Drug-policy experts have said they
expect countries in Europe and elsewhere to look to the Canadian
experience for guidance on cannabis legalization.

"We are very pleased to have reached this point in delivering on this
progressive policy promise to legalize and strictly regulate
cannabis," said Judy Wilson-Raybould, Canada's justice minister. She
said the legislation marks a "wholesale shift in how our country
approaches cannabis. It leaves behind a failed model of prohibition
that's made organized crime rich and left our young people

Canada's approach stands in stark contrast to the Trump
administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to use
federal law to get tough on marijuana, and he brought an end to
Obama-era protections for the pot industry. However, since January,
his own prosecutors have yet to bring federal charges against pot
businesses that are abiding by state law. Eight states plus the
District of Columbia have legalized marijuana.

Marijuana legalization was among the high-profile promises Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau made during the 2015 election campaign, which
resulted in his Liberal Party winning a majority of seats in the lower
house of Canada's parliament. Mr. Trudeau has said legalizing and
regulating marijuana will help prevent abuse, noting it has been
easier for youth to buy a marijuana cigarette than a bottle of beer.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001 for patients
with valid prescriptions.

The legislation means across Canada, adults will be able to purchase
nonmedicinal marijuana from authorized dealers, and possess as much as
30 grams (1.1 ounces) of the drug when in public. Households will also
be able to grow as many as four cannabis plants for personal use, from
seeds or seedlings from a licensed supplier.

The government has also proposed legislation aimed at further cracking
down on drug-impaired driving, in an effort to alleviate concerns from

It will be up to Canada's 10 provinces and three territories to
regulate the distribution system and determine the legal age at which
someone can buy the drug. For instance, in Ontario, Canada's largest
province, the plan is to set up government-run stores to sell
cannabis, and buyers must be 19 years of age.

Leading up to the legalization date, Canadian stock markets have been
courting marijuana company listings from around the world-with Toronto
emerging as a hotbed for cannabis firms to raise capital on the
Toronto Stock Exchange and its smaller rival, the Canadian Securities