The federal government tabled legislation today, April 13, 2017, that would legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes by July 1, 2018.
Under the new legislative regime, the federal government will license marijuana producers, while the provinces and territories will have jurisdiction over the distribution and sale of marijuana within the framework set out in the federal legislation.
Highlights of the proposed legislation are as follows:
- Purchasers will be required to be at least 18 years old, although provinces and territories may set a higher minimum age.
- Adults 18 and older will be able to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in non-dried form, and will be able to grow up to four plants per residence.
- Possession, production, and distribution outside of the legalized system would remain illegal, as would imports or exports without a federal permit.
As part of this major legislative initiative, the federal government is also proposing a number of changes to the Criminal Code, including creating a new criminal offence with a maximum of 14 years in jail for selling marijuana to a minor.
The proposed legislation also includes significant changes to Canada’s impaired driving laws. Proposed amendments to the Criminal Code would reportedly make it illegal for a person to drive within two hours of having a prescribed level of marijuana in his or her blood stream. The government is promising a system of mandatory roadside testing to test for cannabis impairment. The government is also proposing a new drug-impaired driving offence for drivers who combine alcohol with cannabis.
Potential Implications for Employers
In advance of the proposed legalization of marijuana, employers should consider updating their drug and alcohol policies. In particular, the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code may provide employers with an evidence-based model for managing suspected impairment in the workplace.
We will be carefully following the proposed legislation as it passes its way through the House of Commons and Senate.
If you require assistance regarding the impact of these proposed legislative changes on your workplace or any workplace policies or benefit plans, please contact us.