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Canada announces legislation to legalize marijuana
— The Canadian government on Thursday announced new legislation legalizing marijuana, fulfilling one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s major campaign promises.
Canada has anticipated the law will take effect in the summer of 2018. U.S. voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada decided last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Uruguay is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.
The new federal laws in Canada will make the possession of small amounts of pot legal throughout the country and will also establish broad guidelines concerning who can grow, sell and buy the drug.
Canada's federal government set the age at 18, but is allowing each of the provinces to determine if it should be higher. The provinces will also decide how the drug will be sold and distributed. The law also defines the amount of THC in a driver’s blood, as detected by a roadside saliva test, that would be illegal. Marijuana taxes will be announced at a later date.
Those under 18 found with small amounts of marijuana would not face criminal charges.
“If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow of profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press. “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 … We simply have to do better.”
Canada legalized marijuana for some medicinal uses in 2001.