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Recreational Marijuana Will Be Legal Oct. 17 Following Historic Vote

On June 19, 2018, in a vote of 52 to 29, senators passed Bill C-45 (the Cannabis Act), paving the way for legalized, recreational marijuana. This makes Canada the second country in the world and the first G7 nation to implement federal legislation that legalizes recreational marijuana—a projected billion-dollar industry. The vote lifts Canada’s 95-year ban on cannabis, which, in turn, allows millions of Canadians to smoke, ingest or grow the drug without fear of a criminal record.

Following the recent vote, recreational marijuana will go on sale Oct. 17, 2018. The current bill requires an eight- to 12-week delay before the law goes into effect, allowing provinces time to prepare. The October live date provides a 17-week buffer.

The federal government originally intended both houses of Parliament to pass the Cannabis Act by July 1, 2018. However, that timeline was pushed back after the Senate requested more time to review the bill. During its review, the Senate proposed 46 amendments, with the Liberal government rejecting 13 proposed changes.

Many of the major concerns expressed by members of Parliament related to keeping marijuana away from children, addressing organized crime and limiting traffic deaths related to marijuana use.

Once the bill is formally approved, those who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to buy and grow a limited quantity of marijuana for personal use. Specifically, those of age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults, and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer. They also will be allowed to cultivate up to four plants in their households and prepare products such as edibles for personal use.

Consumers will be expected to purchase marijuana from regulated retailers or federally licensed producers. Marijuana will not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco.

While the legalization of recreational marijuana is projected to have a positive impact on the economy, it will likely create new challenges for employers. To learn more about the Cannabis Act and ways to address marijuana usage in the workplace, contact your insurance broker.

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