Ottawa, June 20 (IANS) Canadian Parliament has passed a “historic” bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana nationwide, becoming the second country in the world to do so.
The Cannabis Act passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed and sold, the BBC reported.
Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September.
Uruguay became the first country to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013 while nine US states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational marijuana use.
Thirty US states allow marijuana for medical use.
Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001. The bill will likely receive Royal Assent this week and the government will then choose an official date when the law will come into force.
On Twitter, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the bill and focused on Canada’s youth.
“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 and regulate marijuana just passed the Senate,” he said.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also applauded the vote. “This is an historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada,” she tweeted. “This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime.”
But some groups objected to the new law, with opposition Conservative politicians and indigenous groups among those voicing concerns.
The government is expected to give the provinces and territories, as well as municipalities, eight to 12 weeks to set up the new marijuana marketplace. This time-frame will also allow industry and police forces to prepare for the new legal framework.
Once the bill is formally approved, adults will be able to carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public. They also will be allowed to cultivate up to four plants in their households and prepare products such as edibles for personal use.
However, stringent rules will still govern the purchase and use of marijuana.