Canada On Track For Marijuana Legalization By Mid-2018

Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party is set to follow through on a campaign promise.


When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party took power in 2015’s national elections, one of the planks that they ran on included the legalization of marjuana nationwide but they made it clear that they probably wouldn’t act on the matter until after dealing with budgetary and other more pressing issues. Now, according to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Company, it appears that they’re ready to move forward with legislation that will make recreational marjuana legal in America’s neighbor to the north by mid-2018:

The Liberal government will announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018.

CBC News has learned that the legislation will be announced during the week of April 10 and will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.

Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief who has been stickhandling the marijuana file for the government, briefed the Liberal caucus on the roll-out plan and the legislation during caucus meetings this weekend, according to a senior government official who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity.

The federal government will be in charge of making sure the country’s marijuana supply is safe and secure and Ottawa will license producers.

But the provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold. Provincial governments will also have the right to set price.

While Ottawa will set a minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana, the provinces will have the option of setting a higher age limit if they wish.

As for Canadians who want to grow their own marijuana, they will be limited to four plants per household.

As the CBC notes, the move comes after what many perceived as an increased crackdown by the national government on marijuana cultivation and possession in the year and a half since the Liberal Party took power, with many advocates for legalization wondering if the Liberal Party would in fact follow through on its campaign promise. As it turns out, though, the timing of the legislation roughly corresponds to the promise that the Liberals made when they took power. At that time, the promise was that they would introduce legislation by the spring of 2017 to legalize marijuana, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. As for the enforcement issue I can’t speak to the issues raised by specific cases but, as with the United States, if the laws are on the books it is the responsibility of the government to enforce those laws. The problem, of course, arises when that law is enforced in a draconian manner and otherwise non-violent people are caught up in a net that lands them in jail or prison, and with a criminal record, for something that shouldn’t be illegal in the first place. Additionally, while I’m not fully up to speed on sentencing for marijuana-related crimes in Canada, it’s often the case here in the United States that people are punished far too egregiously that, all in all isn’t any more dangerous than alcohol. In any case, now that the government is expected to more forward on legalization, albeit in a form that is far too heavily regulated for my taste, the enforcement controversy should cease to be an issue in short order.

The implications of this move in Ottawa should not be underestimated. Once it takes place, it will mean that the entire  5,525 mile border between the United States and Canada will be a gateway to an area where marijuana use is perfectly legal in addition to the eight states and the District of Columbia where it is presently legal here in the United States. Additionally, with the exception of Idaho, which shares a short bit of its border with the Canadian province of Britsh Columbia, every American state that shares a border with Canada has either legalized marijuana or at least legalized it for medicinal purposes. It also means that marjuana use will be legal on the Pacific coast from the border of the United States and Mexico all the way North to Alaska. It also comes at the same time that polling indicates that sixty percent of Americans support legalization as indicated by the most recent Gallup poll on the subject. All of this points toward further momentum for legalization in the United States, even though it is still unclear how the Trump Administration is going to treat the issue of enforcement of Federal laws on marijuana in states where it has been legalized. As it stands, there are moves afoot to have initiatives legalizing marijuana on the ballot in several states for the 2018 elections, including North Dakota and Missouri. Other states could follow suit, or push the matter through their legislatures. Much like same-sex marriage, the reality of nationwide marijuana legalization seems self-evident at this point, the only question is when it will happen rather than if it will happen.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but don’t forget that the U.K. is gearing up for their Brexit….vroom vroom!

    (At some point you’ve got to stop trying to hold back the deluded guy who thinks he can fly and just let him jump off the building.)

  2. HarvardLaw92 says:

    It’s probably the sensible thing to do, IMO. Federal drug policy has generally been an unmitigated failure, and nowhere is this fact more evident than in the number of lives needlessly destroyed by convictions related to marijuana possession / use / etc.

    As a side-benefit, maybe I’ll finally see stoners stop trying to rationalize their personal use by flooding my newsfeed with these ridiculous pieces asserting that marijuana cures everything from ringworm to cancer.

    If you want to get baked, then get baked. Enough with the evangelism 🙄

  3. michael reynolds says:


    Hear, hear.

    I have a medical marijuana card. I use it medicinally to cure my chronic lack of highness.

    You want a practical medical application for pot? It contains zero calories, whereas a shot of whiskey is 70 calories. Instead of 280 calories to shut my brain off at the end of the day, I can do it with zero calories. That’s 100,000 calories a year. Granted I only net a savings of half that because I do still love the taste, but I cut alcohol consumption in half, don’t need Ambien, sleep much better, and I’m told I’m much nicer high.

  4. CSK says:


    Yeah. i used to get very irritated with people shoving petitions in my face demanding that weed be legalized because it cures yaws, the pip, schizophrenia, and the heartbreak of psoriasis. I’d have been a lot more inclined to sign if the petitioners had been honest enough to say they just wanted to get baked legally.

  5. KM says:

    Northern border towns are about to see a HUGE tourism boost. Go to a depressed Rust Belt / Great Lakes town on a “international day trip” package, get high legally and spend the day in Canada but come back to a relatively cheap motel and duty free stores. Repeat as necessary.

    Canada’s gonna do more for the Rust Belt in terms of jobs then Trump and all with weed. Let that sink in…. and make sure to inhale. 🙂

  6. Pch101 says:

    The implications of this move in Ottawa should not be underestimated.

    The United States tends to operate in a vacuum of exceptionalism. It pays little attention to what happens in Canada, nor does it see Canada as any sort of role model, so I seriously doubt that US policy will be impacted at all by this.

    My guess is that the states will ultimately win out, although Trump may selectively use federal enforcement to occasionally punish those places that he dislikes, such as deeply blue states, sanctuary cities, etc., while red locations such as Montana and Alaska will be low on the enforcement priority list.

  7. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:


  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    @HarvardLaw92, et al.:

    I get your point, but it strikes me that there is an element of preaching-to-the-choir here. Cannabis enthusiasts have seized upon the medicinal benefits (and there are, indeed, some miraculous medicinal benefits) because the unconverted are much more open to a discussion about reducing childhood seizures than a discussion about how, you know, its like a freedom of consciousness man, and, like, can we really call ourselves the land of the free if the man can stop us from feeling good?

  9. KM says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Won’t somebody please think of the children?! Ah Helen Lovejoy, voicing the BS excuse so many hold dear to their hearts.

    People are far more willing to support medical MJ because it (a) allows them to be compassionate (look at me caring about the plight of X!) (b) gives them a pass to be moral by being anti-drug (necessity, not for fun) and (c) passes a judgement call on everyone else (nobody needs to be high but some people need pain relief). In other words, it lets them feel all tingly about themselves for being decent people. Nothing irritates me more then someone trotting out children as an excuse to pass/deny something instead of judging it by its own merits.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I get it delivered from which offers the usual b.s. about this effect or that. I assume once full legalization takes hold we can cut the crap a bit and still acknowledge the few actual medical benefits.

    BTW, for a pot store Marin Gardens is amazingly efficient. They give you a half hour delivery window and are always on-time.

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Nah, it still sounds like “why you shouldn’t look down your nose at me for getting high”, to be honest.

    If somebody wants to get high / bake / absolutely smoke themselves retarded, more power to them. As long as I don’t have to smell it, they’ll never hear a word about it from me (and I suspect most other people as well).

  12. Neil Hudelson says:


    Sure, to you it still sounds like that. (And I have a feeling the messenger matters quite a bit as well.) On the flip side, efforts here to discuss the medical necessity are bringing some strange bedfellows to the cause. Again, its the preaching-to-the-choir thing. You already don’t care about marijuana, and you understand that the vast majority (but certainly not all) users want it to get intoxicated. For those who are not in your position–who believe that marijuana is actively harmful–the medical discussion is valuable.

    That said, if my liquor store clerk was constantly telling me how great wine is for the heart, a la @michael reynolds experience, I too would be quite annoyed.

    EDIT: Forgot to include the link regarding my ‘strange bedfellows’ comment:

  13. george says:

    Interestingly enough, its not a big deal up here – most people think it should have been done long ago, so the general reaction is “its about time”.

    Even those against it are generally only worried about one thing, the ability to test for impaired drivers (which is admittedly a problem given that the current system is based on breathalyzer tests for alcohol). And even more interesting, even most conservatives (Canadian edition) think it should be legalized; the divide (such as it is) is age rather than politics related.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Twice while visiting donors out in your general area, they treated me to the local delicacies. Man. I thought I knew what strong cannabis was (I went to college after all), but I never experienced anything like that. One particular asshole donor in Sacramento thought it would be funny if he suggested that we ‘chill’ in a “dive bar.”

    Do you know what its like to be another-dimension-stoned while watching people constantly swim by you in the walls and still have to close a 6-figure gift?

    There’s a reason I get paid the big bucks–my tranquility under pressure.

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    For those who are not in your position–who believe that marijuana is actively harmful–the medical discussion is valuable.

    “Hi, I’ve been getting high for years and yet there is nothing wrong with me” seems like it would fit the bill. It also has the advantage of being evidence on the spot, as opposed to some (IMO) mostly specious & fantastical health claims which most of us (at least everybody I know anyway) just roll our eyes at.

    Trying to convince Oliver Oldster that it cures cancer so he maybe won’t be so uptight about someone simply wanting to get baked (and trust me, it isn’t fooling anybody) seems silly. 🙂

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I am weirdly immune to many drugs. The most pot is capable of inducing in me is a sort of vague, sleepy relaxation. I never found cocaine interesting, dropped acid and ate shrooms without losing my sense of reality, and my alcoholic acquaintances complain that after four drinks I’m still entirely me. It takes a ridiculous amount of anything to affect me. I feel them, I recognize that they are having an effect, but it’s always marginal. There are sadly only two versions of me: me, and a slightly more relaxed me, but there is no dance-on-tables or pick-fights version. I’ve had exactly two serious drunks in my life and in both cases the amounts required would have stunned a rhinoceros.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:


    In the our local efforts, its more “Hi! I’m a combat veteran who has PTSD, and I’d like to discuss with you why cannabis has worked better at treating both the symptoms and underlying psychological issues than prevalent pharmacological remedies.”

    Again, perhaps those on the east and west coast–where cannabis, and hence stoners, are prevalent–just have a different reaction to the medical discussion than where the substance is still maligned?

  18. James in Bremerton, WA says:

    It’s hard to describe the liberation of the marijuana scene in Washington state. It has become gloriously mundane, relegated to “just another errand,” where IDs aren’t even checked because you’re so obviously a reggie. No hiding behind glass booths and armed guards. Prices keep creeping down, and the number of strains and methods is overwhelming. Like a Lowe’s for pot.

    In 2018, our Canadian neighbors go legal. Lots of wide open space in the High Plains for a big shiny new wall there to control the coming Canuck Cartels dontcha kno, as pot deals across the Montana border between elk escalate at a rapacious rate…

    The drug war is so over. We are left with a headless chicken running amok.

  19. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: I was that way with alcohol in the days that Theophylline was the go to medicine for asthma. It seemed to be a stronger system depressant than alcohol to such an extent that one day I asked a friend if I seemed drunk the night before when he saw me and he replied that he could tell that I’d been drinking, but no he wouldn’t have said drunk. He seemed surprised when I told him that I’d consumed 13 double shots (the bar tender’s count, I never counted when I was binge drinking).

    I guess that’s why I never got into the whole recreational drug thing. Don’t drink alcohol often either–I’m more likely to binge than anything else because of my early experience.

  20. teve tory says:

    @James in Bremerton, WA: I just moved from Florida to Shelton. Indeed, the selection and pricing here is fantastic, and done just like it should be.

  21. teve tory says:

    I asked a lady running one of the nearby stores if Sessions worried her.

    “No. Everybody in the business knows everybody else in the business now. If it went illegal tomorrow i doubt it would affect a single transaction. We just wouldn’t have to pay taxes.”

    Additionally, the fact that the feds have banks scared to handle their money means they’ve learned how to handle large volumes of cash, which means in the event they had to go underground, they’d be even better at it. Thanks Johnny Law!