Canada reached a critical milestone in its three-year journey to legalize recreational marijuana last Thursday with the Senate's passing of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. The historic vote has put the bill in the last stretch of the legalization process, leaving only a few steps to go before it officially becomes part of the law of Canada.
But Canadians across the country are still wondering: exactly how long will it be until they can legally start smoking?
After the Senate vote, the bill was forced back to the House of Commons for another review. The senators made over 40 amendments that must now be approved, changed or rejected before it can be officially accepted. The bill will continue to be passed back and forth between the houses until both are satisfied with the final wording.
The approved bill then requires one last step — receiving royal assent. Such will will make the bill an offical act of Parliament under Sovereign acknowledgement; though it could still take days or weeks for this to be achieved.
One the Cannabis Act becomes law, it would also take another 8 to 12 weeks before provinces and territories will be ready to sell recreational marijuana products. During that time, each region will be preparing the appropriate packaging, labelling and distribution systems in order to ensure an orderly transition.
That being said, the Liberals' promise of legalization by July 1 may not occur as scheduled, as several months of delay are expected. Canadians won't be able to buy legal recreational marijuana from the government immediately after the Cannabis Act becomes law. It's also unclear whether it will still be illegal to purchase and possess black-market marijuana under the upcoming new laws.
The best possible scenario has Canadians smoking legal recreational marijuana within three or so months. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.