Canada introduces bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Anyone under the age of 18 is out of luck; provinces and territories will have the option to set the minimum age higher than 18.

"Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities", said Bill Blair, a lawmaker and former Toronto police chief involved in the legislative process for the legalization bill. Trudeau's government ensured that selling cannabis to a minor would be a criminal offense and that there would be a "zero-tolerance approach" to drug impaired driving.

Impaired driving laws will be toughened users who mix alcohol with pot, with penalties rising from a $1,000 fine to life imprisonment, depending on the concentration of drugs and if someone else becomes a victim, either by injury or death, of the impaired person's actions.

Canada's Liberal Party introduced legislation Thursday to allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in public, USA Today reported.

Consumers will also be allowed to grow up to four plants at home or buy from a licensed retailer.

The current legal prohibitions have been an "abject failure" at keeping the children from getting a hold of marijuana, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The provinces also have to figure how they will regulate distribution. "We've tried to learn from their experience", he said, noting that Canada has looked upon this as public health issue rather than a commercial opportunity and an effort to maximize tax revenue.

Down in the U.S., however, laws for recreational cannabis in the USA are still a work in progress.

The plan represents progress for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised to legalize marijuana during his campaign.

Authorities have been battling a rise in illegal dispensaries, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario, for over a year.In jurisdictions that do not put a regulated retail framework in place, Canadians would be able to purchase marijuana online.

The government is pitching the legislation as a way to keep pot out of the hands of minors and undercut organised crime. However, those who sell it or give to youths could face up to 14 years in jail.

Goodale made a point of noting the existing laws remain in effect until the new legislation is formally proclaimed the law of the land.

Many nations have either decriminalized marijuana, allowed it to be prescribed medically or effectively stopped enforcing laws against it. "But there is also a clear desire on the government's part to have a mix of big and small producers", said the federal official.

Canada appears set to be the guinea pig for large industrialized countries when it comes to marijuana legalization. The proposed legislation will be carefully scrutinized by provincial governments, marijuana producers and a number of would-be distributors and sellers of marijuana that are all looking for a piece of the multibillion-dollar market. Goodale said Canadian tourists "should never lie" to border guards and suggested he had raised the issue with USA officials.

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