Canada introduces legislation to legalize marijuana

The Canadian government has taken steps to legalize recreational marijuana as part of a larger effort to decriminalize cannabis and "make Canada safer", Bill Blair, a former police chief shaping the legislation, said.

While medical marijuana use has been regulated in this country since 2001, cannabis remains a controlled substance. "In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes".

Parliamentary Secretary and MP Bill Blair said during the news conference that there has been an overwhelming consensus from provinces and territories for a new and regulated regime.

Marijuana producers say the federal government's proposed legal-pot regime needs more details to clarify issues like permissible advertising and distribution.

Unless B.C. demands more powers, Larsen said, he believes that the province will not have any influence over who gets licensed and will not be able to protect B.C's local cannabis industry.

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Canadians will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis for personal use, but those who sell or give marijuana to minors or who drive under its influence will face stiff penalties.

The proposed legislation would allow the federal government to license producers, but provinces would be in charge of regulating consumer sale. Authorities have been battling a rise in illegal dispensaries, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario, for over a year.In jurisdictions that do not put a regulated retail framework in place, Canadians would be able to purchase marijuana online.

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

"What we will see is that the regulation surrounding cannabis will become harmonized with those surrounding alcohol", Battley said.

"I think it's a very good first beginning - little high level at this point in time and a lot of blanks to be filled in", Neufeld said. "It's not an absolute guarantee that kids won't get access to it, but it will be far more hard for kids to get access to it when this new regime is in place than it is today".

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While eight USA states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalise recreational marijuana, the White House has suggested that the Department of Justice will do more to enforce federal laws prohibiting recreational marijuana, raising concerns over how Canada's approach will coexist with a potential U.S. crackdown. "Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world".

"The bills we propose today are aiming at putting drug dealers and organized crime out of the cannabis business", Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.

Although the government has not decided anything about the endorsement of marijuana, reports suggest that the government has indicated that any marketing that would appeal young people will be prohibited.

It would create three new offenses and allow police to require saliva tests for drivers whom they suspect of being high, reported the CBC.

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