Canada’s House of Commons voted Tuesday to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide, and the proposed law will now head to the country’s Senate, where it faces an uncertain future, NPR News is reporting.
In its current form, the bill would make it legal for any adult over 18 years of age to possess less than 30 grams (or just over an ounce) of marijuana. What’s more, the bill would allow Canadians to have up to four marijuana plants in their homes.
Now in Canada’s Senate, which is composed of appointees rather than elected representatives, and which has less power than the House, the bill faces an uncertain future. Already Senators have proposed at least 46 amendments to the law, including one that would allow Canada’s 15 provinces to forbid their residents from growing pot in their own homes. Thirteen of those amendments have already been rejected by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
Also, according to ABS-CBN News, the Canadian Senate doesn’t have the power to block the law, but rather, it can only delay its implementation. The law will also require royal assent from the Governor General, acting on behalf of Canada’s constitutional sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. However, the role of Governor General is largely ceremonial and she lacks any real political power.
Liberal spokesperson Bill Blair said that the law will likely be in effect by the end of summer.
“We’re probably looking at a date of implementation (of legalization) somewhere toward the beginning of September, perhaps mid-September.”
In an official news release from Trudeau’s Liberal government, the ruling party said that Canada’s 95-year prohibition of cannabis has failed on every level.
“The current approach to cannabis does not work. [Keeping marijuana illegal] has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.”
However, opposition party opponents say that the bill, as written, does little to combat the black market of cannabis in Canada. Conservative Senator Percy Mockler, speaking for the opposition, said that the bill “suffers from a serious absence of policy analysis.”
In Canada’s neighbor to the south, the United States, the future of marijuana continues to get murkier. Although marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, over half of the 50 states have legalized either recreational or medical marijuana. The Obama-era Justice Department followed a general guideline of not interfering in states’ rights to allow marijuana – a policy that Trump appointee Jeff Sessions reversed. However, Donald Trump has promised to support a bill that would affirm the states’ rights to regulate marijuana on their own, according to The Hill.