Canada moves to legalise marijuana

A new law would allow adults to legally possess up to 30g

Canada moves to legalise marijuana

Medical marijuana being cut up to be used in a medical marijuana joint in Kingston, Ontario | Image: Lars Hagberg/Zuma Press/PA Images

Canada is considering a bill to legalise and strictly regulate cannabis.

A statement from the Canadian Government says: "The current approach to cannabis does not work.

"It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes."

It says legislation to legalise the drug was introduced after extensive consultation with law enforcement and health and safety experts.

The proposed Cannabis Act would create a legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis there.

It would allow adults to legally possess up to 30g of legal cannabis in public, and to grow up to four plants per household - at a maximum height of one metre from a legal seed or seedling.

This would mean possession of small amounts of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offence and, the government says, would prevent profits from going into the pockets of criminal organisations and street gangs.

The bill would also, for the first time, make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor.

The government of Canada says it intends to provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis no later than July 2018, subject to parliamentary approval and royal assent.

Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott announces changes regarding the legalisation of marijuana | Image:  Adrian Wyld/AP/Press Association Images

Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott says: "The Cannabis Act will help keep our children safe and address the health risks associated with cannabis.

"The proposed legislation would allow Canadian adults to possess and purchase regulated and quality-controlled cannabis products, while prohibiting sales to young Canadians and any products, promotion, packaging or labelling that could be appealing to young people."

Cannabis is currently illegal everywhere in Canada, except for medical purposes.

Earlier this year, Health Minister Simon Harris announced he would establish a Cannabis Access Programme based on the recommendations of a review undertaken by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

But the programme has been labelled "hugely restrictive and totally unworkable."