At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re keeping a close eye on our northern neighbors as Canada looks to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana by July 2018.

In April of this year, a plan was announced by the Canadian government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. If passed, the law would make Canada the second nation in the world to make such a move. Uruguay was the first.

The plan includes developing a system for Canada’s federal government to regulate marijuana cultivation, distribution and sales, as well as manage licensing, taxes, and all associated fees.

Provinces would then have the ability to pass further laws regarding sales and distribution, as well as increase the minimum legal age of 18. In addition to retail purchasing, adults would be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household.

Like many legal, adult-use recreational marijuana laws here in the states, Canada would prohibit driving while impaired and implement strict laws regarding taking marijuana over its borders.

On his website, Prime Minister Trudeau states, “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

Three Major Hurdles

While the bill is yet to receive Parliament’s official approval and may face some changes before becoming law, its outlook is good.

Canada’s House of Commons is controlled by a Liberal majority and an even more liberal faction, the New Democratic Party, is also on board with legalization. As for Conservatives, they are currently a small minority and don’t pose any substantial threat to the bill.

One wild card is Canada’s Senate, which typically does not veto or delay legislation passed by the House. However, it has recently begun to assert more authority, so interference should not be completely ruled out. Beyond adult-use recreational cannabis passing Parliament, there are three major hurdles that will also need to be addressed. Let’s take a closer look at those.

  • Withdrawal from International Treaties
  • Efforts to Change the Advertising Rules
  • Canada’s Premiers Want More Time

Since 1961, Canada has signed three UN drug treaties pledging to ban cannabis. Leaving these treaties requires a notice period.

However, in order to keep the promise of legalizing marijuana by July 1, 2018, Canada would have needed to give the UN notice by Canada Day which has now passed.

There are still ways to legalize marijuana without violating the treaties, including a delay of the legalization date, constitutional amendment (not likely), or on the grounds of performing scientific research.

This final option would require some legal creativity to achieve. How Canada plans to accomplish this still remains to be seen.

In accordance with federal task force recommendations, adult-use recreational marijuana businesses would only be allowed to distribute basic details, much like rules for the tobacco industry, such as price, strain, and company name.

Now, Canadian marijuana businesses have joined forces with Advertising Standards Canada to draft guidelines and lobby the government to be able to advertise and brand their products. Their goal is to be able to better differentiate their products from each other and those sold on the black market.

Because Canada has empowered each territory to decide its own regulations for taxation, as well as determine who is allowed to sell, consume, and purchase adult-use recreational marijuana, Canadian premiers have indicated that they need more time to develop these rules.

They’ve met with push back from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has insisted that the country will meet the July 1, 2018 date. The government has stated that it has a backup plan for those provinces that fail to establish regulations, though details are not yet known.

Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we are hopeful that the bill will be passed and everything will be in place as Canada looks to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana by July 2018.

If you are planning to enter Canada’s adult-use recreational marijuana market next year, please reach out to our team for assistance.