The Liberal government will announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018.
CBC News has learned that the legislation will be announced during the week of April 10 and will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.
Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief who has been stickhandling the marijuana file for the government, briefed the Liberal caucus on the roll-out plan and the legislation during caucus meetings this weekend, according to a senior government official who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity.
Provinces to control sales
The federal government will be in charge of making sure the country’s marijuana supply is safe and secure and Ottawa will license producers.
But the provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold. Provincial governments will also have the right to set price.
While Ottawa will set a minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana, the provinces will have the option of setting a higher age limit if they wish.
4 plants per household
As for Canadians who want to grow their own marijuana, they will be limited to four plants per household.
Legalizing marijuana was one of the more controversial promises Justin Trudeau made as he campaigned to become prime minister.
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But in their platform the Liberals said it was necessary to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” in order to keep drugs “out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals.”
The Liberals had promised to introduce legislation by the Spring of 2017. Announcing the legislation the week of April 10 will allow the party to hit that deadline.
Raids raise questions
Trudeau referred again to that rough timetable a few weeks ago when he said the legislation would be introduced before the summer. But at the same time he also warned that it wasn’t yet open season for the legal sale of marijuana.
“Until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current laws apply,” Trudeau said in Esquimalt, B.C. on March 1.
That warning became more concrete a week later, when police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities carried out raids on marijuana dispensaries and charged several people with possession and trafficking, including noted pot advocates Marc and Jodie Emery.
Trudeau’s promise to legalize marijuana was seen as one of the reasons for the Liberals’ strong showing among youth voters in the 2015 election.
But at the NDP’s leadership debate in Montreal Sunday, which was focused on youth issues, several of the candidates pointed to marijuana legislation as an example of a broken Liberal promise.