Canada Just Legalised Recreational Marijuana

Sale, purchase, and cultivation of four plants at home will be allowed.

Recreational marijuana has been legalised in Canada, after the country's Senate voted in favour of the reform by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Canada's parliament voted in favour of the change on Wednesday (AEST), with the Cannabis Act passing the upper house 52 votes to 29 after months of debate.

A legal cannabis market will be operational in the country within 12 weeks.

The law allows for the legal sale and purchase of marijuana products, and the personal cultivation of up to four plants, on a national level. Citizens will be able to buy plants, cannabis oil and seeds, and possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public. Edible products will not be immediately legal, but are to be phased in after consultation with food regulators.

While multiple American states have legalised marijuana, Canada is the first G7 country to enact the reform on a national level. Canada legalised medicinal cannabis in 2001.

Provincial governments will be able to tinker with regulations, such as altering the legal minimum age to purchase, as well as managing sale and production. Proposed amendments which would have given provincial governments more power to change local laws -- such as around home cultivation, which was pushed for by several provinces -- were blocked.

Senator Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the reform would pave the way for harm minimisation and addressing criminals dealing in the drug.


"We've just witnessed a historic vote for Canada. The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government," he told CBC.

"Now we can start to tackle some of the harms of cannabis. We can start to be proactive in public education. We'll see the end of criminalization and we can start addressing Canada's $7 billion illegal market. These are good things for Canada."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised the legalisation of marijuana as part of his 2015 election campaign.

The Australian Greens party announced in April they would push for legalisation of recreational marijuana, a move which was met with mixed responses from local cannabis campaigners.

While Canadian citizens have long had access to medical cannabis, Australian consumers are still struggling to get timely access to the drug for pharmaceutical uses. Some cannabis campaigners said the Greens' announcement for recreational marijuana may muddy the waters in the push for wider availability of medicinal cannabis, while others welcomed the idea.

"The way [the government] has made access so damn hard with medicinal, this is a way that anyone who needs it medically can access it. If anyone can get it recreationally, people who need it won't have to jump through hoops and find someone who will prescribe it," South Australian campaigner Jenny Hallam told ten daily.

In contrast, another advocate, Lucy Haslam, said she would not support the push until greater access to medicinal products was available.

"I’m not going to fight for it [recreational marijuana], it's not my agenda to get recreational cannabis. I’m for people who need it for medical and therapeutic reasons," she said.

"I’m sure it will muddy the waters [on greater medicinal access] but I think Richard Di Natale is right, we need to admit the war on drugs is failing."