OP. ED.

Differing from the earlier policy of marijuana prohibition for recreational purposes as it wasn’t working, the Canadian government passed a legislation legalizing pot or recreational marijuana on 17-10-2018. The amendment was introduced through the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018 (Bill No. 36)[1]. However, medical usage of cannabis has been legal in the country since 2001.

Highlights:

  1. Adults will be able to buy cannabis from licensed producers and retailers.
  2. The legal age for marijuana use will be 19 in most provinces, and 18 in Quebec.
  3. The permissible possession limit of cannabis public is 30 grams (dried or equivalent form)
  4. It will be illicit to possess an amount, more than the prescribed limit, in public.
  5. It will be illegal to grow more than 4 plants at one’s place or buy from an unlicensed dealer.
  6. It is a criminal offence to sell marijuana to minors with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
  7. Giving flexibility to provinces to modify laws on possession and age restrictions and household cultivation.
  8. Drug impaired driving is still against the law.
  9. A special marijuana excise tax, to be divided up between the federal government and the provinces, will be included in the price; sales tax will be added at the cash register.
  10. Standards and rules for cannabis manufacturing industry (quality, packaging etc.).
  11. Tracking requirements to keep the procured amount out of illegal markets.
  12. Provision for proper educational awareness, counselling and law enforcement to counter harmful effects.
  13. Cross border transportation is a penal offence.

Howbeit, use of Cannabis in enclosed workplaces is still prohibited.

 

Benefits:

  1. Reducing burden on police system and criminal system as a plethora of crimes are non violent and only involve possession of marijuana.
  2. Targeting unlicensed dealers and keeping them from profiting and hence bringing down organised crime.
  3. Preventing consumption of spiked marijuana or inferior quality marijuana that affects the health of an individual..
  4. Keeping the drug out of hands of minors and youth.
  5. Harnessing economic growth out of the industry.
  6. Preventing people from getting a criminal record for mere possession of marijuana.

Thus, the law on legalizing marijuana, sets standards for production of the same, so as to ensure the quality of the drug, keeping in mind public safety. It aims at constructing a specific distribution system so that the drug does not fall into young or wrong hands, and aims at spreading awareness about the harmful effects of the same. It is a national experiment that Canada has embarked upon which might reshape the economic, social and cultural anatomy of the country.


Ed. Note: Canada became the second country to issue a cannabis card to its citizens by legalizing recreational marijuana, following in the footsteps of Uruguay (first country to legalize the same).

 

Whereas, Netherlands, Colombia, Czech Republic and Australia have changed their laws to allow consumption for medical purposes, i.e. medical marijuana at the very least. In Colombia you can possess upto 20 plants/or can have upto 22 grams (for personal consumption), and in Jamaica it is legal to cultivate upto 5 plants for personal use.

Furthermore, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has been advocating for legalization of marijuana in the U.S. and has proposed to regulate it on the same lines as tobacco and alcohol, in furtherance of which, it has been organizing campaigns in New Jersey, New York and New Mexico (to end the Marijuana prohibition).

 

As for India, it is illegal on a federal level, but is ‘tolerated’ in many states like West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha and the North East. Large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild in many parts of northern and southern India, and in holy cities like Varanasi and various north Indian states government-owned shops sell marijuana in the form of bhang.

In North Korea, Cambodia, California technically it is illegal, but the law is not followed in a strict sense.

And, in IsraelRomaniaMacedonia and Puerto Rico, cannabis is totally illegal, but available for medical use in very specific cases, such as severe or terminal illness.

 

[1] Bill No. 36 (Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018), S.O. 2018, c. 12, w.e.f. 27-09-2018.

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Constitutional Court of South Africa: A 10-Judge Bench comprising of Zondo, ACJ., Cameron, Froneman, Jafta, Madlanga, Mhlantla, Theron, JJ., Kathree-Setiloane, Kollapen, Zondi, AJ., unanimously declared private use of cannabis a matter of privacy and thereby appeal was dismissed.

 The facts of the case are that High Court gave an order due to which Sections 4(b) and 5(b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, 1992 read with Part III of Schedule 2 to the Drugs Act and Section 22A(9)(a)(i) of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act,1965 and Section 22A(10) read with Schedule 7 of GN R509, 2003 were declared to be constitutionally invalid. The above provisions prohibited an adult person to use, possess, purchase, cultivate cannabis for personal consumption and thus was declared as constitutionally invalid on the reasoning that it was against the right to privacy guaranteed under Section 14 of the Constitution.

Applicant State submitted that it is in public interest that the restriction is put for the health, safety and psychological well-being of cannabis users whereas respondent agreed to the invalidation of impugned provision. Further High Court suspended its declaration until parliament corrects the defects as pointed out in its order. Constitutional Court was of the view that High Court was not competent to suspend its declaration as the declaration was not yet confirmed by the Constitutional Court as is required under Article 172(2) of the Constitution of Republic of South Africa. On the question of infringement of right to privacy the Constitutional court found that the right to privacy of adults to use etc. in private was limited by these provisions.

Constitutional Court came to the conclusion that the prohibition on privately involving in any activity which is related to cannabis cultivation by an adult for personal consumption was not in consonance with right to privacy as entrenched in the Constitution and was constitutionally invalid. Since constitutional invalidity declared by High Court was being affirmed by the Constitutional Court this order of invalidity was suspended for the parliament to correct the constitutional defects as pointed by this court in the impugned provision. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development v. Prince, Case CCT 108 of 17, decided on 16-09-2018]