Canada rec marijuana legalization bill coming spring 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make good on his promise to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada, but not for at least another year, his health minister announced Wednesday.

The Canadian market potentially could provide enormous opportunities for U.S. cannabis companies and fuel legalization efforts abroad.

“We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals,” Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott told a special session of the United Nations focused on combating drugs, according to the Canadian broadcaster CBC.

At the same time, the Canadian government’s point man on legalization legislation, Bill Blair, told reporters in New York, “We’re looking at regulations with respect to production, distribution, the retail and consumption of marijuana and we want to make sure that it’s based on the best advice from experts.”

If the legislation ultimately is approved, Canada would likely become the first major world power to fully legalize cannabis.

Uruguay became the first country to legalize recreational marijuana in late 2013. However, bureaucratic hangups have delayed the implementation of Uruguay’s rec program, and sales have not yet begun. Rec sales could start as soon as this summer.