Article by Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg
Legalized marijuana is coming to Canada next year, but precisely when remains difficult to nail down.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s law enacting legal pot has passed the country’s elected House of Commons but moved slowly so far in the Senate, where there are signs it could meet delays. The Senate has grown more unpredictable in recent years, and senators are scheduled to discuss the bill with ministers on Feb. 6.
While legalization is aimed for mid-2018, the precise time remains unclear. The government has regularly said the target is to legalize pot by July 1, though not on that day, which is a national holiday. Trudeau said Tuesday in an interview with broadcaster TVA the roll out day won’t be July 1 and said the government is aiming for “summer” of 2018.
In an earlier interview, lawmaker Bill Blair, a former police chief and Trudeau’s point man on pot legalization, declined to speculate on whether the Senate haggling could delay implementation.
“I don’t want to be presumptuous. The Senate has the bill, the Senate has a great deal of work to do, and we will do everything we can to assist them,” Blair said on Dec. 13, reiterating what he called the government’s target of having it “done by July of 2018.”
A spokeswoman for Trudeau, Chantal Gagnon, rejected any notion of a delay when asked about the prime minister’s remarks to TVA. “We’ve been consistent that our goal is this summer,” she said.
Canada’s Senate, an institution of appointed members who serve until age 75 without needing to seek election, has long been a rubber-stamp for laws. However, reforms advanced by Trudeau have made it more unpredictable. Some senators have raised concerns with the marijuana bill, and with rushing it through too quickly.
The government’s representative in the Senate, Peter Harder, said in an interview he’s confident they’ll meet the target date; Tony Dean, the lawmaker sponsoring the bill, said the target is achievable but delays are possible.