Canada’s government is poised to approve sweeping cannabis legalization as soon as this week and could launch marijuana sales by late summer.
The appointed Canadian Senate is expected to give the OK to a legalization measure Thursday following years of quiet study and discussion. Once approved by the House, which has already passed a version of the plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government expects to launch legal sales as soon as 10 to 12 weeks from now.
Canada’s approach differs dramatically from that taken in the United States, which has seen nine states and the District of Columbia legalize cannabis but has so far avoided a substantive national discussion about the widely used drug. As part of legalization, the Canadian government will also likely inform citizens that admitting to marijuana use might get them barred from crossing the border into the United States, which still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug.
“We’ve very much learned from the early mistakes made by some U.S. states and other jurisdictions,” said Sen. Tony Dean, an Independent who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “We know have a national challenge with cannabis. We have some of the highest youth consumption rates in the world, an illegal cannabis market worth upward of $6 billion annually, we know it’s harmful for kids, especially younger kids … and we had a government that wanted to tackle those issues.”