The prospect of fully legalised cannabis sales is now within touching distance for Canadians after its House of Commons voted 205 to 82 in favour of Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Cannabis Act earlier this week.
Despite a unified Conservative party opposition, the Bill passed with almost a two-thirds majority.
The proposed law would make it legal for anyone over the age of 18 to possess less than 30 grams of marijuana and allows Canadians to grow up to four plants in their home.
As part of Canada’s time-consuming legislative procedure, the bill has been pinging back and forth between the Senate and House of Commons for several months in order for both houses to agree on identical versions of the bill.
Assuming there are no last-minute hiccups, it is likely that Canada will see its first recreational cannabis sales alongside existing controlled substances such as alcohol and tobacco made available as early as September.
This would make Canada only the second country in the world to fully legalise cannabis sales (with Uruguay being the first) and the first country in the G20 to legalise the previously prohibited drug nationwide.
Following the US cannabis example
Across the border in the US, several states have already taken the step of legalising marijuana.
Nine states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Alaska, Colorado, Vermont, Maryland and Maine) have legalised recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 21, without the need for prescription or medical approval. In addition, medicinal marijuana which requires doctor’s approval has been made legal in a further 29 states.
Legal cannabis sales reached US$9.7 billion in North America in 2017, according to a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. In a report published this year, analysts predicted the legal cannabis market grow at a compound rate of 28% per year to reach US$24.5 billion in sales by 2021, as more state-legal markets come online.
The strong commercial traction achieved by legal cannabis has validated calls for its legalisation and continues to spur entities in both Canada and Australia as they seek to commercialise a plant that’s been locked up in government dungeons for decades.