- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Canadian lawmakers introduced federal legislation Thursday aimed at establishing a strict framework for the production, sale, distribution and possession of marijuana, following through on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise and putting his country on course to become the first nation in North America to legalize the recreational use of weed.

Bills introduced Thursday in Parliament signaled the government’s biggest step yet towards fulfilling Mr. Trudeau’s pledge of abolishing Canada’s federal prohibition on pot less than two years after he assumed office.

If approved, legislation would establish new rules letting Canadians legally buy, harvest and have limited amounts of government-controlled marijuana in addition to implementing measures intended to discourage individuals from skirting the proposed restrictions.

One bill would allow individuals over 18 to possess up to 30 grams of pot in public, share their weed with other adults and purchase cannabis and cannabis-infused products from federally licensed pot shops, and would also let adults harvest up to to four marijuana plants in their home per resident.

Another outlines rules for enforcing the proposed pot law, and includes provisions that could put convicted marijuana criminals in prison for up to 14 years.

Both bills are likely to face opposition among members of Parliament, but the Liberal government nonetheless expects the legislation to be enacted by July 2018, Canada’s CBC predicted.

“The current system of prohibition is failing our kids,” Liberal MP Bill Blair, a supporter of the legislation, said Thursday. “We have a responsibility to act as expeditiously as we can. … We can’t drag our feet; we aspire to get this done as quickly as possible.”

If authorized as planned, proponents say the bill will be a blessing for the nearly one-third of young adults in Canada who admit smoking weed and subsequently risk arrest in the face the federal government’s current prohibition.

“Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world … we simply have to do better,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

In the U.S., meanwhile, lawmakers introduced bicameral legislation this month aimed at reining in Washington’s own pot prohibition. While cannabis is currently considered contraband by the Department of Justice, 28 states and the nation’s capital have approved laws letting adults use marijuana for recreational or medical reasons.

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