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Recent Developments in the Legalization of Cannabis

Jul 4th, 2018

As an update to our recent postings, the Canadian Senate voted on June 19, 2018 to accept the latest amendments to Bill C-45, thereby officially allowing for the recreational use of marijuana in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that marijuana will be legal starting October 17, 2018 giving the provinces 17 weeks to prepare for the retail distribution of cannabis and to comply with the new legislation. Canada will be the first G7 country to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

The federal government (Health Canada) will regulate the production and licensing processes throughout Canada. In Quebec, Bill 157 received Royal Assent on June 12, 2018. Among other provisions, Bill 157 confirms that the distribution and sale of marijuana in the province of Quebec will exclusively be operated through the Société Québécoise du cannabis (a public crown corporation).

While the federal legislation allows for home cultivation of up to four plants per residence, the Quebec legislation prohibits the cultivation of home-grown plants. Currently, it is not the federal government’s intention to challenge the provincial laws, but a resident could challenge any province banning home-grown plants. Quebec has already said it may challenge the federal legislation’s decision to allow for home cultivation and this constitutional issue will most probably be decided by the courts.

The next steps in the legislation of recreational cannabis will include releasing regulations in respect of the marijuana trade, including the sale of edible products within a year.

In the province of Quebec, adults will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public and to possess up to 150 grams at home, but the use of marijuana will remain illegal for minors under the age of 18 years old. In addition, marijuana will be permitted to be consumed in public places where the consumption of tobacco is allowed. There will be zero tolerance for driving and working under the influence of marijuana.

We will continue to provide updates on the emerging regulations and invite you to contact us with any queries you may have.