Canada on Wednesday legalised recreational marijuana, reported The Guardian. It is now the second country in the world, after Uruguay, where one can legally possess and use recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001.
Adults in Canada can now buy cannabis oil, seeds, plants and dried cannabis from licenced producers and retailers. A person can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent, in public. But cannabis-infused foods will be available only after a year to allow the government time for framing regulations, reported BBC.
However, it will be illegal to possess more than 30 grams in public, grow more than four plants per household and to buy from an unlicenced dealer. Anyone caught selling the drug to a minor could be jailed for up to 14 years.
The government undertook several awareness campaigns to inform the 15 million households about the new laws. It also hopes that legalising the drug would generate $400 million (approximately Rs 2,661 crore) a year in tax. The government may also relax norms so that Canadians who have been convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana can now easily obtain a pardon, reported The New York Times, quoting an unidentified government official.
However, the Canadian Medical Association Journal in its editorial called the government’s plan an “uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians”. It asked the government to promise to change the law if it leads to increased marijuana use.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised to legalise recreational cannabis during his 2015 election campaign, arguing that the country’s laws criminalising the use of the drug had been ineffective.
Trudeau had pointed out that Canadians were among the world’s heaviest users of cannabis. According to Statistics Canada, 4.9 million Canadians used cannabis last year, each consuming over 20 grams and spending a total of $5.6 billion (approximately Rs 37,000 crore).