Canada is now tiptoeing into the 21st century with the recent passage of a marijuana legalization bill. The new legislation, known as the Cannabis Act (C-45), has now made Canada the second nation to legalize recreational marijuana in the world after Uruguay.
The Cannabis Act passed in the Canadian Senate 52 to 29.
But while many are hailing the new law, it must be kept in mind that there is a vast difference between legalization and decriminalization, the latter being the most desirable since the former often involves strict controls. While decriminalization means that no laws will be passed to restrict the possession, production, or consumption of the plant, legalization works on the premise that the individual has not the right to consume what they choose but that the government is responsible for designating that consumption as a privilege.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to emphasize that difference when he said, “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plant to legalize and regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”
Still, the move is undeniably a major step in the right direction.
Once the legislation goes into effect, Canadian adults over 18 years of age will no longer be arrested and thrown into cages for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana in public.
However, marijuana purchases must be made through government-approved vendors that themselves will be regulated by the Federal government and the states and provinces.
New laws are being updated to determine how to adjust the definition and penalties for “driving while impaired” and Canadians must be careful to get the law right before they end up being forced to give blood at checkpoints or be charged with impaired driving over weed they smoked weeks prior.
Regardless, Canada’s new approach to marijuana is a giant step forward by ending nearly a century of strict prohibition and being the first G7 country to officially legalize the plant. Although not the ideal law, it is highly encouraging that the world is finally realizing, even if their governments do not, that the global “war on drugs” is nothing more than a war on freedom” and a “war on individual rights.”