Why in news?
=>Canada became the first industrialized nation to legalise recreational cannabis. Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis.
=>Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since 2001. But concerns remain, including about the readiness for police forces to tackle drug impaired driving.
What’s at stake?
=>With global trends shifting away from a strict prohibition of cannabis, the world will be watching this national experiment in drug liberalisation.
=>A measure of success whether legalisation will be a win for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of the 2019 federal election will depend on whether it meets his stated goals: restricting access of the drug to youth who are among the heaviest users in Canada, reducing the burden of cannabis laws on the justice system, and undercutting the illicit market for the drug. And if the outcomes are positive, other countries might just be more willing to follow suit.
Why is Canada legalising cannabis?
=>Legalisation fulfils a 2015 campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of the governing Liberal Party.
=>The Prime Minister has argued that Canada’s nearly century-old laws criminalising use of the drug have been ineffective, given that Canadians are still among the world’s heaviest users.
=>He said the new law is designed to keep drugs out of the hands of minors and profits out of the hands of criminals. The federal government also predicts it will raise $400m a year in tax revenues on the sale of cannabis.
=>Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001.
What is the situation elsewhere?
=>Canada follows in the footsteps of Uruguay, which became the first country in the world to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in 2013. A number of US states have also voted to end prohibition.
=>Medical marijuana is also gaining ground in many European countries. Portugal and the Netherlands have decriminalised the drug.
=>South Africa’s highest court legalised the use of cannabis by adults in private places in September, though the sale of the drug remains a crime. In April, Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa, after Lesotho, to legalise the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
=>Nine US states have legalised recreational marijuana use while many more allow its use on medical grounds.
What are the new rules around cannabis?
=>Adults will be able buy cannabis oil, seeds and plants and dried cannabis from licensed producers and retailers and to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis in public, or its equivalent.
=>Edibles, or cannabis-infused foods, will not be immediately available for purchase but will be within a year of the bill coming into force. The delay is meant to give the government time to set out regulations specific to those products.
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