Canada has approved recreational cannabis. This makes Canada the second country to permit legal pot.
By a vote of 52-29, the Canadian Senate today passed a bill for legalization. This follows campaign promises by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pass recreational cannabis.
The Canadian House has already approved the bill. Now it is up to Trudeau and his team to decide when the bill goes into effect. The bill contains a buffer of eight-to-12 weeks, giving provinces opportunity to prepare.
Several amendments in the original bill were struck down by the Senate, for fear that they would damage the emerging cannabis industry. These included a ban on pot paraphernalia like t-shirts and tote bags, as well as rules against home-growing cannabis. As it stands, paraphernalia will be legal, and Canadians can grow up to four plants in their homes.
A move to force transparency of foreign investment in Canadian cannabis companies also failed. Marketing of pot products remains severely restricted, and law does not pardon criminals who received punishments for cannabis in the past.
Canada’s first retail stores should open by September. But for the first year under the law, retailers can sell only dried plant and oil. After that, additional forms of cannabis may be approved.
Businesses and entrepreneurs have moved fast in Canada. A Canadian company has already filed a patent on cannabis beer. The U.S.-based distribution giant Southern Glazer’s is already set to distribute legal pot up north.
Cannabis remains federally illegal in America. Efforts by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, notoriously anti-pot, to curb cannabis in states that with legalization laws have not resulted in the crackdown that some had feared. Part of the problem for Sessions is that President Trump seemingly does not share his oppositional views towards the substance.
In the meantime, U.S. alcohol producers are preparing for the inevitability of broader cannabis legalization.