Canada Just Became The Second Country In The World To Legalize Marijuana

The Cannabis Act, which legalizes the adult use of marijuana, went into effect this week.

Canada has become the second country in the world to legalize marijuana for adults. The nation's first marijuana dispensaries officially opened their doors on Wednesday, with dozens of locals lining up outside stores to make their first legal purchase.

The legalization of the drug stems from a pledge made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During his campaign, Trudeau promised to curb marijuana-related crime and keep the drug away from underage youth. The bill, known as the Cannabis Act, passed the Senate in June.

Under the new law, adults of at least 18 years of age will be allowed to carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public. They can also legally make marijuana-infused products, such as edibles, for personal use and cultivate up to four plants in their households.

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While the bill legalizes the drug across the country, each province is allowed to decide how to sell it. The supply of recreational marijuana will be limited in some areas. According to CNN, officials in Nova Scotia and Manitoba said they won't have a large selection, at least not right away. Certain provinces, like Quebec, are also instituting their own age limit, raising it to 21.

Under the new legal measure, marijuana won't be sold the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Customers are expected to purchase the drug either from regulated retailers or federally licensed producers.

The law also doesn't change any guidelines when it comes to traveling in and out of the country. Having marijuana while entering or leaving Canada remains illegal and could result in criminal charges. As for any previous marijuana-related charges, plans to pardon Canadians who were convicted of possessing 30 grams or less of the drug are expected to be announced soon.

Marijuana protest sign in Canada
People celebrate 4/20 in Toronto in 2016. nisargmediaproductions / Shutterstock.com

The move is already drawing praise from legalization advocates across the country. The new regulation is also drawing attention from financial investors interested in the cannabis industry and its potentially lucrative businesses. The bank CIBC predicts adult-use cannabis will top $6 billion in retail sales in the country by 2020.

While Uruguay became the first country to legalize the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana in 2013, Canada is the first G7 nation to allow a nationwide marijuana market. Its law could set a precedent for other countries, including the United States, who has faced increasing pressure to reform its marijuana laws. Though medical marijuana is legal in some capacity in 30 states, only nine American states and the District of Columbia currently allow recreational marijuana use. In August, California, the largest legal market in the U.S., passed a bill that provides a legal framework for state prosecutors to expunge past cannabis convictions

Cover image via arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com.

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