Canada Just Legalized Marijuana. Here’s What It Means for the Rest of the World.

Canada has become the second country in the world and the first among the G7 to legalize recreational marijuana.

Bill C-45 was approved by Canada’s Senate Tuesday after receiving a nod in the House of Commons. The country is expected to see a fully legalized cannabis market within 8 to 12 weeks.

Internally, the move is largely seen as the fulfillment of a campaign promise made early on by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But this policy could also have implications outside of Canada’s borders.

Canada, like the US, is part of international drug treaties that explicitly ban legalizing marijuana. Although activists have been pushing to change these treaties for years, they have failed so far — and that means Canada will be, in effect, in violation of international law in moving to legalize. (The US argues it’s still in accordance with the treaties because federal law still technically prohibits cannabis, even though some states have legalized it.)

Canada is walking a fine line here. But if it does so successfully, it could encourage other G7 nations to follow suit, argues Vox.

Such a move would come at a very crucial time in international drug policy: After the UN’s special session on drugs in 2016, drug policy reformers are putting more pressure to reform the global drug control regime. Canadian legalization gives these reformers an opening by showing that if the treaties aren’t changed, they may soon be rendered meaningless as countries move ahead with their own reforms anyway — even if it puts them in violation of international drug law. And that could open up the rest of the world to legalizing pot.

It’s not just, then, that Canada is changing its own drug laws. Canada’s steps — from its rebuke of international drug treaties to how it will regulate cannabis — could affect the future of marijuana policy worldwide.

Read more about Tuesday’s vote here


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