The Legality Of Marijuana In Canada

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has decriminalized marijuana.  However, the road to decriminalization was not an easy on for advocates of the herb.  Public opinion polls since 1997 have shown an increasing number of Canadians agreeing with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. It is now not uncommon to find your local vape shop just around the corner with all the paraphernalia you could want!

Medical Marijuana Legislation

In 2001, Health Canada established a regulation on access to marijuana for medical use.  There were 2 categories of patients who were eligible for this access.  Category 1 covered patients receiving treatment for symptoms related to end-of-life care or those with certain medical conditions including severe epilepsy, severe arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.  Category 2 covered patients who suffered from debilitating symptoms not related to any of the medical conditions covered in Category 1.  

Medical marijuana was only to be provided to patients who could demonstrate the medical need for this herb.  In 2014, the Medical Marijuana Access program was replaced with the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.  Under the new regulations, medical marijuana production was allowed by licensed producers.  This was done to ensure the quality of the marijuana being used by the medical field.  

The definition of medical marijuana was expanded in 2015 by the Supreme Court of Canada.  The new definition included any form of marijuana including brownies, oils and teas.  Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, but there have been raids on some dispensaries in 2016. 

The Decriminalization Bills Of 2003- 2004

In 2003, the Liberal government introduced a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.  Being in possession of 15 grams or less would have resulted in a fine with possession of more being a ticketed offense or criminal charges.  The bill looked likely to be passed, but it died when Parliament prorogues.  The death of the bill was largely attributed to pressure from the American DEA.  

In 2004 an identical bill was introduced by the minority Liberal government.  The law was not passed as the government was defeated during a confidence vote.  After the Conservative victory in 2006, the government did not continue with the legislation. 

The Cannabis Act 2017

A new act was introduced to the Canadian Parliament in 2017 which would legalize marijuana across the country.  The Liberal Part of Canada proposed the legalization in 2012 and it was one of the major points of Justin Trudeau’s campaign to become Prime Minister.  The Cannabis Act was introduced to Parliament by Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada.  

The Act would allow people over the age of 18 to possess 30 grams of marijuana for recreational use.  It allowed each province to place further restrictions on possession, use and sale.  Part of the Act, was a tax revenue projection which stated that the national treasury would gain $675 million each year.  The bill was legalized in 2017 and would see marijuana possession legalized by 2018.  Until this time, it is still considered illegal to possess recreational use marijuana in Canada.

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