Canada introduces bill to legalize marijuana

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Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted a year ago to approve recreational use, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

The federal plan is also likely to include efforts to promote drug education, given the Liberal government's stated goal of legalizing pot in order to make it less accessible to young people.

Only cannabis grown by a federally licensed producer would be available for sale, though Canadians could grow up to four plants at home.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation that would allow adults to possess, share and purchase marijuana, while also strengthening penalties for those who give or sell the products to youth.

"Very curious how they're going to maximize or place a cap on the level of THC", Neufeld said.

Possession of small amounts of pot will be legal throughout the country on July 1, 2018, if the legislation passes.

Although public opinion is generally supportive of cannabis legalization, Canada's medical profession has expressed concern about the dangers posed by setting too low a minimum legal age.

They will also be permitted to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules, establish provincial zoning rules for cannabis businesses and change provincial traffic safety laws as they deem necessary. A roadside saliva test would help determine impairment and could prompt a further blood test.

No information was given on how the product will be priced or taxed; these details are expected to be announced by the country's finance minister in the coming months.

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"I know that the use of cannabis among our young people is among the highest in the world".

"Today, we are following through on our commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis and to create new laws to punish more severely those who drive under its influence", said Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. "We are pleased to see the government moving towards laws that better reflect our society".

Canadian officials were in close touch with their American counterparts as they drafted the proposed law, Ralph Goodale, Canada's public safety minister, said on Thursday.

"The current system of prohibition is failing our kids", Liberal MP Bill Blair, a supporter of the legislation, said Thursday.

But Christina Grant, a professor of paediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, worries the government is conveying the message that marijuana is not harmful.

"One in seven youths who have used cannabis will develop an addiction to cannabis and that impacts your life, schooling, job prospects, social and emotional relationships", she said.

Early and regular cannabis use can affect memory, attention, intelligence and the ability to process thoughts, said CPA President Dr. Renuka Prasad, and exacerbate the risk of psychotic disorders and other mental health issues among those already vulnerable.

"Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities", said Bill Blair, a lawmaker and former Toronto police chief involved in the legislative process for the legalization bill.

Although the government has unveiled plans to legalise recreational marijuana, the rule won't become legal overnight.

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