Article by Manisha Krishnan, Vice News
It’s been a long road, but recreational weed is finally, without a shadow of a doubt, going to be legal in Canada.
The Canadian senate passed the Cannabis Act—Bill C-45—Tuesday night with a vote of 52-29, with two abstentions. The bill now needs Royal Assent, which could take place today. Canadians will be able to buy weed legally on October 17.
The bill is historic, putting an end to 95 years of prohibition and making Canada the second nation in the world and the first G7 country to fully regulate and sell recreational cannabis.
While many are celebrating, some activists, lawyers, and experts don’t feel the bill goes far enough in undoing the harms caused by prohibition, including the criminalization of young people and people of colour. In a news conference Wednesday morning, Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, said discussions about pardoning Canadians with pot convictions “can’t take place” until legalization is implemented. He stressed that until that happens, it is still illegal to buy and consume weed recreationally.
There is also uncertainty about how legalization will play out in different provinces, with cannabis entrepreneurs in Ontario still hopeful that private dispensaries and pot lounges will at some point be allowed. The federal government has said it won’t regulate edibles for another year.
VICE reached out to people representing every side of the issue to ask what comes next.