OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Legislation permitting the possession, use, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis took effect on Wednesday.
Canada is only the second country in the world to explicitly legalize cannabis production and sales nationwide.
The new federal law permits those age 18 and older to legally possess (up to 30 grams) and grow cannabis (up to four plants of any size per household). Individual provinces possess the authority to enact additional regulations with respect to its distribution, such as raising the legal age limit to purchase cannabis or by restricting home grow operations.
The Act federally licenses commercial producers of cannabis and of certain cannabis-infused products, while permitting provinces to regulate retail sales in public (government operated) and private stores, subject to local rules.
The new social use regulations do not amend Canada’s existing medical marijuana access laws, which have been in place since 2001.
Separate legislation is expected to be forthcoming to facilitate a process where those with past convictions for minor marijuana offenses may be granted pardons.
The enactment of the law fulfills a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised shortly after taking office in 2015 to legalize and regulate the marijuana market. Prime Minister Trudeau, who formerly opposed legalization, cites a 2012 meeting with NORML members as the impetus for reversing his position on the issue.