Home Culture A Look at Canada’s (Still) Long Road to Marijuana Legalization

A Look at Canada’s (Still) Long Road to Marijuana Legalization


Anyone even slightly familiar with political processes in Canada knows that things can move quite slowly. A perfect example of this is the process of legalizing marijuana in the Great White North.

It’s been almost 2 years since Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party came to power in Canada, a victory due in part to their promise to legalize cannabis for adult use nationwide. After a rather lengthy delay that included a task force study of the issue, things officially kicked into gear this summer. With a target date of July 1, 2018 in mind, the gears of the Canadian government move slowly as the legalization measure begins to pass from the House of Commons to the Senate.

The Cannabis Act, also known as C-45, has made it out of the House Standing Committee on Health and has moved back to the House for report stage and third reading. Now comes more examination and amendments from House members, followed by more debate and then hopefully a final vote. Once C-45 clears the House, it moves to the Senate, a place where the Liberal Party holds less clout.

This is where things can slow down even more. From Lift News:

The Senate will then follow a similar path as the House followed, with first and second reading and then sending it to a Senate committee that will do a clause-by-clause analysis of the bill similar to the analysis of the Health Committee. Senate committees have, historically, taken much more time than House committees, inviting extensive witnesses and sometimes taking months to examine a bill.

It is this process, say some political analysts following the Cannabis Act, where the bill has a chance to get bogged down.

“The timeline in the Senate all depends on the government House leader in the Senate and how they take that through and what they can negotiate and who they talk to,” said Ivan Ross Vrana, the Vice President of Public Affairs at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. “The first and second readings can go fairly quickly… but it’s the committee side of the Senate that is going to be interesting. If it’s going to get hung up anywhere, if it’s going to be delayed, my bet is it will be in the committee hearings.”

With more than 8 months left until the nowhere-near-set-in-stone target date of July 1st, there would seem to still be plenty of time to legalize by next summer. Of course, even after legalization there would still be a ton of work to do to get regulations set up in the various provinces, but for now, Canadian cannabis users have a long wait ahead of them before they know if legalization is a promise that will be realized.