Q&A: The Low-Down on What Canada’s Marijuana Legalization Means

Article by Liz Braun, Toronto Sun

Q&A: The low-down on what Canada's marijuana legalization means Liz Braun. (Eduardo Verdugo/AP file photo)Eduardo Verdugo / AP

So the Senate passed Bill C-45 — the cannabis act — on its third reading last Thursday night, June 7. You were probably too busy watching election returns to notice, but that’s the bill that will legalize recreational marijuana. And so we move closer to the inevitable end of almost a century of censure against reefer.

Sort of.

Some 40 amendments were attached to the bill before the vote, covering many dos and don’ts — no branded merch for cannabis companies, for example, so forget the Canopy Growth baseball cap.

Another amendment gives provinces the right to nix personal cultivation, even though Bill C-45 allows four plants per household.

Now the bill goes back to the House of Commons, where the government will decide on accepting or declining those amendments.

To find out where we are in this complicated process, we talked to lawyer Shelley Brown, Senior Associate with Steinberg, Title, Hope and Israel LLP. She’s an employment and labour law specialist who writes and speaks about — and assists employers with — the changes coming once marijuana is legalized in Canada.

Enquiring minds want to know: what is this amendment that lets each province decide whether or not people can grow four marijuana plants at home?

Brown: The draft bill enables individuals to grow four pot plants, and that’s the max. That’s an acceptable limit that would not incur any kind of sanction, whether criminal at the federal level, or civil at the provincial level.  It went to the senate, and a conservative senator proposed that this be banned outright. In other words, across Canada, no plants could be grown by individuals. That was voted down. But, maybe in a compromise measure, they amended it to allow provinces to, on their own, enact provincial legislation. This allows the individual province to prohibit pot plants from being cultivated on a personal basis … Quebec and Manitoba had already indicated, before last Thursday’s vote, that they would prohibit individual cultivation of marijuana plants. If this amendment is adopted by the federal government, then Quebec and Manitoba can go ahead with their plan and it won’t be problematic. But if the amendment is not accepted, and Quebec and Manitoba still prohibit individual cultivation, that opens the door to constitutional challenges.

Read the full article here.

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