The Senate approved Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, on Tuesday (June 19).
The measure was already approved by the House of Commons, so the Senate’s approval means it’s now set to become law.
The measure legalizes marijuana possession, home growing, and sales for adults.
The Senate voted 52-29 in favor of the revised bill from the elected House of Commons, paving the way for a fully legal cannabis market within eight to 12 weeks.
This timeframe will also allows industry and police forces to prepare for the new legal framework.
The federal government will oversee remaining criminal sanctions (for, say, selling to minors) and the licensing of producers, while provincial governments will manage sales, distribution, and related regulations — as such, provinces will be able to impose tougher rules, such as raising the minimum age.
Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001.
“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Tuesday.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was elected in 2015, one of the main promises he ran on was to legalize marijuana.
“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” the Liberal Party declared on its campaign website.
“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”
However, the process languished as Trudeau and his allies waited for a federal task force’s recommendations and as the Senate debated several provisions in the bill.
It is likely that by mid-September, Canadians will be able to buy cannabis and cannabis oil grown by licensed producers at various retail locations.
Canadians across the country will also be able to order the drug online from federally licensed producers.
Adults will be able to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis in public.
Penalties will be severe. Someone caught selling the drug to a minor could be jailed for up to 14 years.
Some critics say the penalties are too harsh and not proportional to similar laws like those around selling alcohol to minors.
Edibles, or cannabis-infused foods, will not be immediately available for purchase but will be within a year of the bill coming into force. The delay is meant to give the government time to set out regulations specific to those products.
The minimum legal age to buy and consume marijuana has been set federally at 18, but some provinces have chosen to set it at 19.
Provinces are in charge of how it is sold and have the power to set various other limits on its use within their jurisdiction – like where it can be smoked.
But the federal government has set guidelines for plain packaging with little branding and strict health warnings. It will also impose restrictions on promotions targeting young people, promotion through sponsorships, or depictions of celebrities, characters, or animals in advertisements.
According to reports, it will be illegal to possess over 30 grams of cannabis, grow more than four plants per household, and to buy from an unlicensed dealer.
This legislation fulfils a 2015 campaign promise by Mr Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party.
The prime minister has argued that Canada’s nearly century-old laws criminalising use of the drug have been ineffective, given that Canadians are still among the world’s heaviest users.
Polls have repeatedly indicated that a solid majority of Canadians are supportive of the move.
The decision to legalise recreational use of marijuana in Canada comes as global trends shift away from criminal prohibition of the widely used drug.
In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to fully legalise the sale and production of marijuana.
A handful of US states have legalised its recreational use in the intervening years, including Colorado and California.