Over the last 20 years, public opinion has shifted in favour of decriminalizing marijuana. In fact, a 2015 Forum Research poll found that a whopping 68% of Canadians are in favour of relaxing regulations.
In the 2015 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada recognized that the current prohibition approach to marijuana is not working and committed to legalizing, regulating and restricting access by April 2017. In June 2016, the long-awaited task force, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, was announced, with a mandate to design a new framework for legalization and regulation. The report will be delivered in November 2016 and legislation is slated to be introduced in the spring of 2017.
Many Canadians are looking forward to being able to legally smoke marijuana this summer, but the biggest question still looms: how much is too much, especially when it comes to getting behind the wheel? The senate still hasn’t confirmed what the legal amount of THC in a driver’s system should be, and it’s not for lack of trying – there still hasn’t been definitive scientific proof of what that number might be.
Police forces are requesting more time, even well past the July 1st proposed legalization date, to allow for their 65,000 officers across the country to gain proper training and have an effective roadside tool to test the amount of THC in a driver’s system, similar to what they now use to test for alcohol impairment. The government wants to make sure everything is done the right way, but that could mean a further delay well into the fall, perhaps even winter.
More details are coming forth regarding the newly announced delay in cannabis legalization in Canada – more details that indicate Canadian marijuana users will now be waiting until at least early August to purchase it at regulated and licensed retail shops.
The legislation is being sent to five different Senate committees for further study – attempting to address cultural, federal and international concerns, including amending the criminal code and determining how this will affect police services, and what changes may be required at the border.
It would appear that someone at the federal government was paying attention to the growing public concern that a July 1st legalization date for marijuana may be too soon, especially when more and more questions around it seem to crop up each day.
The federal government has publicly announced that it will likely be late summer before cannabis consumption and selling are officially legal, giving provinces and territories more time to receive product and abide by the regulations still being put into place. Some potential retailers are pleased with this decision as they hope that this means all the wrinkles will be ironed out. Governments are happy as this also gives them opportunity for public education.
With only five months until legalization, the BC government is establishing a framework around marijuana sales and consumption. It has determined that, similar to cigarettes, smoking pot will be prohibited in vehicles and public spaces where children may be present, and the legal age of possession, like alcohol, will be 19.
But as more factors are determined, more questions loom: potential cannabis retailers and business owners are keen to learn how to apply for licenses to grow and sell marijuana, but those regulations have yet to be set, and may take up to a year after it’s officially legal in Canada. Read more here.
Realizing there’s a lack of evidence on how marijuana use may affect a person’s ability to drive, researchers in Alberta are trying to establish how long it takes for the cognitive effects of cannabis to exit the system on the average person. They acknowledge that it can take up to seven days for some verbal learning impairments to dissipate, but like alcohol, it’s difficult to gauge because everyone’s tolerance level is different.
Researchers in Edmonton began recruiting study participants but need more – read more here, or sign up to be a part of their study.