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Canada Will Legalize Cannabis in 2018, Set Legal Age At 18

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government plans to legalize recreational marijuana across the country by Canada Day (July 1) 2018, according to David Cochrane of CBC. Here's what we know about Canada's recreational marijuana regulations so far.

1. Leaky caucus

In his report, Cochrane notes that Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair - Prime Minister Trudeau's point-man on marijuana - briefed the Liberal caucus on the government's legalization plans last weekend. So the details that have since been circulated in the media appear to have leaked out of that briefing.

2. Provinces will regulate sales

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According to Cochrane, "the provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold" in their jurisdictions. That means Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne might get her wish to stock cannabis alongside spirits in her province's liquor stores. In contrast, provinces like Manitoba could opt for privately owned cannabis stores that operate like dispensaries in Colorado.

Letting provinces decide the tax rate is a slight departure from Prime Minister Trudeau's previous stance on cannabis. While promoting the issue with Canadians, Trudeau has repeatedly stressed that the federal government had to ensure that the cannabis tax rate was low so that they could cut the black market out of the industry.

"The fact is that if you tax it too much, as you saw with cigarettes, you end up driving things toward a black market, which will not keep Canadians safe - particularly young Canadians," Trudeau said in December 2015. 

But if the provinces are allowed to set their own pot prices, they could inadvertently keep street dealers in business if they try to gouge consumers. That means legalization might end up being more successful in some Canadian jurisdictions than others.

3. Ottawa will oversee safety, sets legal age at 18

The federal government will step aside from taxing cannabis, but they plan to control cannabis production and oversee safety regulations. Cochrane says that the feds will be in charge of licensing Canada's legal cannabis producers and setting rules to ensure that the cannabis sold to Canadian consumers is safe.

The federal government will also set the legal age for marijuana at 18. But provinces can set a higher age limit if they want. 

4. There will be limited home growing

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Canadians who would rather get high on their own supply can grow a limited number of plants at home. Cochrane reports that the Liberals will allow Canadians to grow up to 4 plants per household. That limit is similar to the regulations in Oregon, which also allows residents to grow up to 4 plants. 

5. Legislation is coming soon

Cochrane says that the Liberals will introduce their recreational cannabis legalization bill to parliament in the week of April 10. He added that the legislation "will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former Liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan."

So if you want a closer look at what legalization in Canada might look like, check out our overview of the task force's recommendations.

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