The federal government announced today that it has tabled legislation aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana.
The Cannabis Act would allow adults to legally process, grow, and purchase limited amounts of cannabis products including dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds for cultivation.
The proposed legislation is being met with praise and criticism by marijuana advocates.
Daily Hive spoke with political activist Jodie Emery and Dan Sutton founder Tantalus Labs to get their thoughts on the federal government’s Cannabis Act.
Jodie Emery: “We are are seeing a lot of scare mongering…”
Jodie Emery is a long-time activist and former owner Cannabis Culture. In March, Emery and her husband, Marc, were arrested and charged in Toronto for cannabis-related offences.
Their Cannabis Culture shops around the country were shut down and raided by police. The Emerys’ bail conditions have recommended them to disassociate themselves completely with their Cannabis Culture shops.
Emery says she is “discouraged” with the details of the government’s proposed legislation.
“I am worried about this legislation because it seems to be more prohibitive than what most Canadians would hope for,” Emery told Daily Hive.
The new law will allow the possession of cannabis products by people aged 18 or older in a public place equivalent of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis.
However, if anyone 18 or older violates the government’s proposed regulations, they will face a maximum prison term of 14 years.
“The rules are designed to introduce tougher penalties. We are are seeing a lot of scare mongering with the messaging of government,” said Emery.
Today’s a big day. I should feel vindicated after spending 13 years devoted 100% to cannabis legalization, but this isn’t good legalization.
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) April 13, 2017
The law also requires Cannabis producers to be federally licensed and this is something Emery disagrees with.
“With the government aiming to only allow licensed producers provide the recreational market we are going to see a massive failure on that front,” she said. “The licensed producers aren’t even meeting the needs of the patients they are supposed to be serving let alone the recreational market that they are hoping to corner.”
For Emery, the new rules aim to criminalize those who have been targeted by the law all along. ”
“So these rules have been designed to basically legalize the ability of some companies to sell pot while criminalizing everybody else who did not get the golden ticket. That is just a continuation of prohibition and we are going to see more raids and more arrests.
Dan Sutton: “A milestone event for Canada as a nation.”
Policy makers advising industry is progressive, intelligent, and forward thinking. It’s not us vs them.
— Dan Sutton (@DSutton1986) April 13, 2017
Dan Sutton, the managing director of BC-based cannabis production company Tantalus Labs, has a more positive take on the new law.
“I think this is a milestone event for Canada as a nation. I mean some of us have been waiting for this 30 years. There was the original talk of cannabis legalization in the mid-70s that was kyboshed by the war on drugs,” Sutton told Daily Hive.
For Sutton, this new law will be a positive for licensed cannabis producers.
“The future of cannabis retail sales in Canada and in the world is where consumers can rest easy knowing that their products are free of pesticides, quality assured, absent of mould and mildew and these are guarantees that the black market just cannot supply,” he said. “I think what Canadians want to see a taxable regulated supply chain that is transparent and we know that money isn’t going to organized crime.”
Future of the law
The Cannabis Act is scheduled to come into full effect by July 2018. All provinces and territories will be allowed to increase the minimum age, lower the possession limit, and impose extra rules on home growing.
Provinces and territories will also be able to set extra requirements, such as restrictions on zoning for cannabis-related businesses and where cannabis can be consumed in public.
Once the Cannabis Act is in force, the government has said it intends to develop separate regulations to allow the legal sale of cannabis edibles.
With files from Jenni Sheppard