This Thursday, Canadian Senators will make the final vote on the Cannabis Act. If passed, recreational cannabis will become a legal substance across the country soon after, or it could face even more delays.
The vote comes after 14 months of tweaking Bill C-45, which would repeal cannabis prohibition across the country. If the Senate approves the Cannabis Act on Thursday, it will go back to the House of Commons at least one more time for members of parliament to review the Senate's dozens of amendments*. And if the House revises the bill again, it will likely wind up back in the Senate for further review.
That means it could be another few months yet before legal cannabis is actually available for purchase.
But the bill's sponsor - Ontario independent Senator Tony Dean - says the slow process is exactly how things should be going with cannabis legalization.
“From where I sit, and I’m the sponsor of the bill, if it takes until the first week of October to get it all right, then we should take until the first week of October,” he told the Toronto Sun.
Dean says a cautious approach is best, but he is also confident that the Cannabis Act will become law eventually.
"What I can tell you after 14 months in Parliament and review by five committees of the Senate and there again in committee and by third reading, we will have exhausted our examination of this legislation and every Senator will know everything that she or he needs to know to make an informed decision. Look I think this is good public policy. I think that the vote will be affirmative. I think our legislation will pass."
The Senate's final vote comes after a series of amendments were made to the Act last week. These included things like allowing individual province to ban home cultivation and ensuring that possession of cannabis over the designated maximum is a simple "ticketing offense."
"Just like an administrative penalty," Dean says. "Just like a parking ticket. There would be no record."
So while legal cannabis won't be available for the initially promised date of July 1, the stage is set for prohibition to end by early Fall.