So, Can I Legally Smoke Cannabis Now?
June 7th may just assume some of the mythical status of April 20th in the cannabis lexicon. Well, in Canada at least. Yesterday, the Canadian Senate continued to push along its work on passing Bill C-45, aka The Cannabis Act, with a vote on Third Reading of the Bill, which is their final vote. The Bill passed by a vote of 58-30.
While this is a major milestone in the long battle for cannabis freedom, Canucks still cannot consume recreational cannabis legally in this country. During the course of debate on the Bill, members of the Senate made a number of amendments to the version that the House of Commons passed many months ago. Canada has a bi-camera, Westminster parliament, which means that both houses (House of Commons and the Senate) must agree on the same version of the Bill.
The Senate will now send an official communication back to the House of Commons to report on the changes that have been made and to enquire if the House supports the changes. The House of Commons must pass a motion to say that it agrees, or disagrees, with the amendments that the Senators would like. The governing Liberal Party has a majority in the House of Commons which makes a motion easy to pass, assuming the government agrees with the amendments – which means that we are well on our way to legal adult-use recreational cannabis.
The main concern now is if the House does not agree with the Senate’s amendments, as that could lead to a back and forth, or perhaps even a stalemate on the Bill itself. Normally, the two sides could work this out and get the Bill done, but we are also right up against the summer recess of both the House of Commons (June 22nd) and the Senate (June 29th). If an agreement cannot be reached before that date, then the Bill could be delayed until the fall, which, to put it mildly, would not be ideal. Even worse, that would put legalization about a year away from the 2019 federal election scheduled for October of next year.
Assuming that the Senate and the House of Commons can come to an agreement where both houses support the same version of the Bill, then it will be sent to the Governor General for Royal Assent, which has the effect of transforming the Bill into an actual law, making Canada the first G7 – and G20 – country in the world to legalize cannabis consumption for adults at the national level.
The government has signaled its intent to give provinces and licensed producers 6-8 weeks to prepare for the first legal purchases of cannabis, meaning that if everything goes smoothly, Canadians should be able to consume that long sought after legal cannabis that voters, activists, and consumers alike have been waiting for.
We are almost there.
Story by Will Stewart
VP Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Hiku
Photo by David Pike