Nobody seems to know exactly when legal weed will go on sale in Canada

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With under five months to go before the widely-assumed first day of legal weed sales in Canada, the three Liberal ministers responsible for legalization have faced a two-hour televised grilling at a special Senate session.

There are still questions as uncertainty about Bill C-45’s timeline and the ability of the government to legalize weed before Canada Day this year hang over the process.

It now appears that the government’s goal of legalizing cannabis on “on or before July 1” has been revised, with officials expecting weed to be legal sometime in July 2018.

‘TRANSITION PERIOD’

Weed being legal in July doesn’t mean you will be able to actually purchase it at that point, however. Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said during Tuesday’s Senate hearing that it would take “up to 8 to 12 weeks” after C-45 is given royal assent until sales could begin, as the provinces and territories require time to prepare for retail sales.

“There is going to be a transition period, because we have to ensure that provinces and territories have the capacity to get the products in their shops,” said Petitpas Taylor after the hearing.

Petitpas Taylor also announced that an education campaign, designed to inform Canadians about the risks of using cannabis, will begin this March.

At the hearing, Justice Minister Jody Raybould-Wilson tried to downplay suggestions that the government was either rushing to pass the bill or that it would be delayed. “As a government [we] have been working towards the legalization of cannabis for over two years now. […] We are confident that we are on track,” Raybould-Wilson told the Senate. “I am confident that will be in a place for the legalization of cannabis July of 2018, and that a responsible process for implementation of the act will continue thereafter.”

Raybould-Wilson’s office declined to comment about the timeline for sales on Wednesday, deferring further questions to Health Canada.

While Bill C-45 is still expected to pass in the Senate at some point this spring, Conservative senators continue to raise issues with the legalization plan, including the regulations around packaging, edibles, and home growing.

Conservative Senate opposition leader Larry Smith said, however, that his party is not attempting to block or unnecessarily slow down the bill.

“I would like to make it clear to you, and anyone else watching, that Conservative senators will not proceed in an obstructionist manner, as some in the media and elsewhere have seemed to suggest,” Smith told the Senate. “I promise you however that we will give a voice to those in the Canadian public who have significant, valid concerns about the policy choice your government is making.”

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