October 17th is a day that will take on a new significance in the world. No, it’s not the birthday of Rita Hayworth (well, it is… but that’s not why it’s so important). Rather, October 17th is the day that the Cannabis Act, or Bill C-45, will go into full effect. The Cannabis Act, as per its name, fully legalizes the recreational use of cannabis across the entirety of Canada.
This bill makes Canada the second country in the world to legalize marijuana (after Uruguay), and the first in North America.
However, the Cannabis Act, like any other governmental act, is rather complicated to understand. So here’s everything you need to know about it.
Origins of Canada’s Cannabis Act
The Cannabis Act of Canada began as a sponsored bill entitled C-45. The bill, entered into the Canadian House of Commons on April 13th, 2017, was sponsored by Jody Wilson-Raybould.
This monumental sponsorship was incredibly important, as well as indicative of the seriousness of the bill, as Wilson-Raybould was (and still is) the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. This means that the bill was not put forward or sponsored by unknown Members of Parliament, but by the actual Minister of Justice.
The bill stipulates that any individual over the age of 18 could legally consume marijuana without fear of persecution by the government, either in individual territories or federally.
It also allows a maximum possession of 30 grams. This is incredibly important to know, as to be able to carry more than 30 grams on you at a time, you need to hold a special distributor license, similar to the license required to sell alcohol. Failure to meet this requirement could lead to fines or, in the case of repeat infractions, jail time.
The bill’s origins actually go further back than just 2017, however.
C-45 was originally proposed in 2012 by the Liberal Party of Canada, who remains the longest running political party to hold office in the country.
Their leader, Justin Trudeau, ran his political campaign of 2015 on the platform of the eventual legalization, basing a great deal of his political speeches and advertising on it. This platform drove Trudeau’s campaign to monumental success, electing him to become the second youngest Prime Minister in Canada’s history.
C-45 was passed by the House of Commons of Canada in November 2017, then passed by the Senate on June 7th. However, it underwent amendments, forcing it back to the Commons. Finally, on June 19th, it was accepted, having received Royal Assent on June 21st.
Growing Weed Under Canada’s C-45 Bill
Perhaps of the most significant import to prospective users of cannabis is how much they’re allowed to have under the C-45 Bill. As previously mentioned, the maximum amount you’re allowed to hold at any one time in a public space is 30 grams.
30 grams (just over 1 oz) is roughly 8 times the amount a normal bag of weed contains – usually weighing 1/8 oz, or 3.5 grams – when buying it from a street dealer. This means you can purchase 8 times the amount of cannabis a user would normally buy – a decently large sum.
However, the Cannabis Act also allows for home growing. Up to four plants at a time can be grown by individuals without a license, whereas growing any more plants requires a commercial license and the relevant inspections and fees.
One thing of important note is that the sale of edibles – a common method of imbibing wherein the cannabinoids are infused into oils and then cooked into food – will not be legal just yet. This is due to conflicts within the Canadian food governing bodies, as additional testing and research will need to be conducted before commercial edible options are available.
However, you’re perfectly fine to make your own edibles from your legally purchased cannabis.
These stipulations governing personal holding of cannabis are fairly lenient compared to other jurisdictions concerning cannabis legalization. Though you won’t be able to buy a wheelbarrow of marijuana on one visit to the dispensary, you are still able to buy as much marijuana as you want.
An interesting additional piece of legislation is that New Brunswick, the easternmost province of Canada, will additionally require you to keep all of your cannabis behind a locked door or inside a container.
Despite New Brunswick’s treatment of cannabis like a loaded firearm, you can expect to find cannabis being considered just a part of the consumer marketplace once October 17th rolls around.
Promotion and Packaging of Weed Under C-45
The Cannabis Act doesn’t just cover personal usage of cannabis; it also stipulates rules and regulations for sellers of cannabis and what they need to abide by.
In contrast with cigarette packaging, companies will be allowed to brand their cannabis products in their own individual ways. However, they are bound by law to not cater their advertisements in any way to the youth. This means that advertisement methods such as cartoon characters or celebrity endorsements are not allowed under C-45. It does, however, give cannabis sellers the ability to still sell their goods in a creative and advertisement-friendly manner.
Additionally, cannabis is not allowed to be marketed at events or in public spaces like how beer is commonly sold on billboards or at public events. This is to discourage cannabis’ possible association with the public space, and to also avoid children being on the receiving end of unwanted cannabis advertisement.
With regard to packaging information, all cannabis products have to clearly state their THC and CBD levels, so as to allow consumers to make an informed choice. This also extends to the point of origin of the individual strain used in the cannabis products, as well as whether it is an indica, sativa or a hybrid of the two.
This promotional information puts cannabis in a sort of middle ground between the advertisement policies of alcohol and cigarettes. Though branding is allowed, it still must remain aimed away from children, as well as being transparent about the cannabinoid content and its place of origin.
It remains to be seen what kind of marketing and promotional materials will be developed to help advertise cannabis. The days of the famous hippy leaf and joint symbols might be replaced with more tacit, formal branding.
Thanks to this legislation, cannabis is entering more and more into the realm of a regular consumer good.
How Much Money is Canada Going to Make?
Perhaps the most important aspect of the Cannabis Act is how much revenue will be generated for the country. One of the principal reasons argued for the legalization of cannabis was the potential for immense tax revenue, with promises to help allocate those funds into the education and healthcare sectors.
The potential revenue is estimated to be roughly $675 million per year, a figure based on expected sales revenue based on years of survey data and information gathered by the Liberal party.
This sum might seem paltry when compared to the monumental budgets of most nations, but when it comes to a figure of hundreds of millions, that money is able to be put to good use throughout Canada.
Alongside that, the GDP of the nation will increase as well; money that was previously kept entirely illegal and underground will now be traded by registered, taxable businesses. The creation of a new cannabis industry means that more value will be added to the Canadian economy, thanks to more tradable, taxable produce in the form of marijuana.
Final Thoughts on Canada’s Cannabis Act
The Cannabis Act, going into effect on October 17th 2018, will completely legalize Cannabis throughout Canada. The projected $675 million will help improve the nation of Canada considerably, both in budget allocation and in general economy.
This landmark Act serves as a notice to the rest of the western world that cannabis deserves full legalization. Though Canada is sometimes seen as a more liberal version of the United States, there is still a great deal of pressure below the border to promote legalization across the USA.
It’s possible that, with the help of the Cannabis Act’s influence, Cannabis might become legalized throughout the western world in due course.
The Cannabis Act might seem confusing at first glance, but the rules and stipulations with regard to personal use are, thankfully, pretty clear. No more than 30 grams in a public space (which, weirdly enough, includes your car), and only four plants able to be grown at any one time.
Cannabis used to be considered a dangerous substance and something to fear, but, thanks to Trudeau and his Liberal Party’s efforts, cannabis will finally be completely legalized.
C-45’s current status is waiting for that glorious day of full-blown legalization. October 17th might not become the new April 20th (4/20), but it’s going to remain an important date for marijuana smokers everywhere.