Canada introduces legislation to legalise marijuana

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The proposal, which the party hopes to make law by July of 2018, sets a minimum purchase age of 18, which is one year below the legal drinking age in most Canadian provinces and three years below the minimum age set in US states that have legalized recreational weed.

The Canadian government has introduced sweeping legislation created to permit the recreational use of marijuana throughout the country by July 2018, fulfilling an election promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Goodale argued that the Canadian approach would ultimately prove to be the better one.

"We are not against legalization, we're just interested in making sure that thresholds and proper technologies are in place", Brulotte said, adding that the industry also wanted the right to perform random drug tests in the workplace. In addition to establishing the regulatory framework, the Cannabis Act would tighten laws on impaired driving.

The proposed Cannabis Act introduces penalties for two new criminal offenses: "Giving or selling cannabis to youth" and "using youth to commit a cannabis-related offense". An official panel recommended late previous year that the government require plain packaging.While medical marijuana is already legal in Canada, consulting firm Deloitte has estimated annual sales of recreational marijuana could be as high as C$8.7 billion ($6.5 billion). He was the federal government's point man on the recreational-marijuana file.

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"It's a very important day", Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair told members of the press this morning.

Opposition reaction Thursday ran the gamut: the Conservatives shook their heads at what they are convinced is a bad idea, while the New Democrats wondered what took so long.

"They come over all the time and ask me if cannabis is available", Panjwani said.

One that dominated the conversation Thursday touched on how the changes could impact the country's relationship with the US, and what sort of administrative stress Canadians can expect at the border. Goodale, the public safety minister, warned that existing laws banning cannabis will remain in force until the new legislation is passed.

He also said until the drug is legal, people need to follow the law.

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If authorized as planned, proponents say the bill will be a blessing for the almost one-third of young adults in Canada who admit smoking weed and subsequently risk arrest in the face the federal government's current prohibition.

Teens and minors under the age of 18, would be prohibited from having or buying marijuana.

But there will likely be a debate on the age at which it will be legal to buy cannabis. Others have decriminalized it or effectively stopped enforcing laws against it.

Those who want to grow their own marijuana will be limited to four plants per household.

The legislation also includes a prohibition for producers packaging cannabis in a way associated with "a way of life" including glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality and risk.

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Philpott declined this week to confirm nor deny that the new bill would require plain packaging, or to disclose any other details prior to the legislation's public release.