After receiving the Cannabis Act or Bill C-45 in November, the Senate on Thursday will give the impending law, set to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide in Canada, its final reading vote.
The bill is most likely to pass, making Canada the first developed nation to legalize recreational cannabis and the second after Uruguay.
Here are the top 11 things to expect after their vote.
1- Bill to be sent back to House of Commons
The Senate has already made a number of amendments to the Cannabis Act, meaning, the bill has to go back to the House of Commons for the latter to decide if it will adopt the changes made by the red chamber.
2- Bill needs to get Royal Assent
If the House of Commons decides to accept the changes made by the Upper Chamber, the bill then could receive Royal Assent.
Getting the Crown’s approval can happen either through a written procedure or through the traditional ceremony, in which members of the House of Commons join Senators in the Senate Chamber.
The Royal Assent will be given by Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette or by one of her deputies: Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada or a senior official such as the Secretary to the Governor General.
As with a traditional Royal Assent ceremony, it is the government that decides when Royal Assent will take place.
3- Legal sales of recreational marijuana won’t be immediate
Canadians will need to wait until at least early August, if not, as late as early September to finally buy legal recreational marijuana.
Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor previously said that it will take 8 to 12 weeks to get the retail system up and running after the legislation receives Royal Assent.
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, previously insisted that the Cannabis Act was on track for legalization in July, the Senate’s schedule was not only busy and but its members thought amendments were necessary.
4- Legal sales of edibles will take a year
The Cannabis Act initially prevented the sale of edibles. However, it was changed to include it.
But Canadians won’t be able to buy edibles or other marijuana extracts only after one year has passed following the official approval of Bill C-45.
The iffiness surrounding edibles is due to concerns of its potency and the lack of knowledge among the public people on the etiquette on how to consume it. Edibles usually take at least an hour for its effects to be felt. This could be confusing for first-time users, who would probably consume more edibles in hopes of an immediate high.
In January, two Toronto police officers made headlines for consuming marijuana edibles while on duty after a dispensary raid.
One of them reportedly felt like he was going to pass out, and was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital, while another was said to be “conscious but nauseous.”
5- Phew! No random breath testing measure
Alongside Bill C-45, Bill C-46 which specifically deals with drug-impaired driving was introduced.
While it is still pending at the Senate, luckily enough, Conservative senators acted to remove the random breath testing measure on marijuana from Bill C-46.
The random breath testing, however, remains to target those who drink and drive.
So far, there is no government-approved roadside testing technology for marijuana impairment. A Health Canada survey also shows there is no consensus on how long it takes to be able to drive safely after consuming cannabis.
But Canadian provinces, territories, and municipalities have already begun setting up their legalized regimes; employers have been preparing for the question of weed at work; and law enforcement agencies are training for a potential influx in drug-impaired driving, CTV News reported.
6- Provinces to catch up with Ontario to pass laws
Out of the 10 Canadian provinces, Ontario is the only one that has already passed its marijuana laws.
Others are still formulating their final laws.
With the exception of Manitoba, all jurisdictions have opted to keep their legal dope-smoking ages in line with those for drinking alcohol.
The Cannabis Act, meanwhile, allows Canadians to grow up to four marijuana plants per residence. However, some provinces, like Manitoba and Quebec, plan to ban home cultivation.
7- Canadians to spend $7 billion on cannabis in 2019
Canadians are expected to spend as much as $7.17 billion on cannabis products in 2019 and increase their overall consumption by up to 35 per cent once recreational cannabis is legalized later this year, according to a new report by Deloitte.
8- No marijuana ‘swag,’ celebrity endorsement
The Senate removed a section of Bill C45 that allowed marijuana companies to promote products and services using “brand elements” on non-cannabis merchandise, such as hats or tee-shirts, so long as the items weren’t appealing to young people or associated with certain attractive lifestyles.
In April, Bill Blair, the federal MP, who is tasked with leading Canada’s marijuana legalization, also reiterated this that celebrity endorsements of any kind for legal marijuana products will be forbidden.
Most importantly, marijuana packages will most likely be very plain.
9- Medical cannabis patients to continue paying taxes
However, more activism is expected to change this.
10- Short selling to marijuana stocks
Some investors believe that some Canadian marijuana stocks are expected to fall due to their short interests in the sector, paving the way for major short selling transactions to take place. According to SmallCapPower, some investors are betting against big names such as Aurora Cannabis(TSX:ACB) to start making more money.
In an interview with Midas Letter, Aphria (NASDAQOTH:APHQF) CEO Vic Neufield had already warned that the Canadian provincial authorities could demand lower prices in the not-too-distant future. When that happens, he thinks “the strong will survive, but the weak will not.”
11- Possible boycott, black market to continue
Ottawa agreed that legalized pot will cost Canadians about $10 a gram. Ottawa also agreed to give the provinces 75 per cent of the tax revenues to help cover costs of setting up the new regime.
But as legalization looms and marijuana supplies increase, the average cost for marijuana has dropped to C$7.43 ($6.05) a gram last year, from C$8.43 in 2015.
Some Canadian activists, especially those from Ontario have also urged people to boycott the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) after accusing the government of stifling a free or open market for marijuana.