- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2018

Canada is closer than ever to legalizing recreational marijuana after Senate members passed a bill Thursday ending the federal prohibition on pot.

Senators voted 56-30 in favor of Bill C-45, sending the landmark cannabis legislation back to the House of Commons to be considered by lawmakers in parliament’s lower chamber for further review.

If approved in the House and once more in the Senate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be poised to sign a bill making Canada the only nation other than Uruguay to nationally legalize the plant, fulfilling a campaign promise pledged by the Liberal party leader and likely putting pressure on the allies like to U.S. to act accordingly.

Once passed by parliament and signed as expected, individuals over the age of 18 would be able to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use and eventually purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries. Provinces and territories will need to establish their own rules for matters like retail sales, however, and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas previously said that it will take up to three months for pot shops to open if and when the bill becomes law.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate on Thursday included dozens of amendments covering topics ranging from cannabis cultivation and advertising, to social use and public consumption, CBC reported. The House will have a chance to weigh those amendments and offer its own before it is sent back to the Senate for a final vote.

While several states adjacent to the Canadian border have already legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, the imminent opening of retail dispensaries to the north may cause states with already lax weed laws to consider retail legislation of their own: a report issued last month by one of Canada’s largest banks predicted that the nation’s soon-to-be-legal cannabis industry will generate more than $6.5 billion in sales by 2020, proving a windfall for the provinces that plan on permitting taxed pot shops to operate.

“There is a lot of interest from our allies in what we’re doing,” Mr. Trudeau said on the topic last month.

Canada legalized medical marijuana in 2001. The Trudeau government previously said it planned for recreational marijuana to be legalized as soon as early next month.

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