Canada moves closer to approving legal marijuana after Senate approves legislation


Nugs of marijuana await packaging at the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company near Shelton

Mr Trudeau's promise to legalize recreational marijuana has fueled investment and speculation in the cannabis sector, with cultivators like Aphria and Canopy Growth becoming stock market darlings.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would likely support a federal bill to end the national ban on marijuana.

"It's a really elegant solution", said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, an advocacy group for hundreds of marijuana farmers, business owners and patients in the state.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, or STATES Act, from Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., unveiled Thursday.

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Another bill expands the state's medical marijuana program and allows any health-care practitioner permitted to prescribe controlled substances to write prescriptions. And industrial hemp, which can be turned into oils or fabrics, wouldn't be classified as marijuana under the proposal.

Supporters say medical marijuana can help with withdrawal and make it easier for people to stop using opioids. This doesn't change the schedule.

"The fact that Canada is beating the the punch on legalization is another demonstration that federal prohibition of marijuana is an untenable position and Congress will have to act soon", said Michael Collins, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance.

When asked about the measure, Trump told reporters in Washington that "we're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes".

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That puts Trump at odds (again) with his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who is a long-time foe of legalizing marijuana and who has tried to get federal attorneys to ratchet up enforcement of federal laws against marijuana possession and use.

Michael Liszewski, a policy adviser with the anti-drug-criminalization Drug Policy Alliance, said there are still hurdles in committees and elsewhere that need to be crossed, but was optimistic that broader marijuana reforms at the federal level are within reach. I think that's very important.

Canada's imminent decision to legalize marijuana is a welcome milestone, but the law's failure to absolve people with criminal records for pot prevents them from fully participating in the new, legal cannabis business, said the activist Jodie Emery.

As part of legalization, the Canadian government will probably inform citizens that admitting to marijuana use might get them barred from crossing the border into the U.S., which still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with "no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse", according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin too sounded critical of the United States decision, saying the move may destabilise the Gulf region.

"Some of the amendments offered in the final stages of debate will place the pioneers of our legal sector at a significant disadvantage in displacing illegal operators", said Allan Rewak of the Cannabis Council of Canada.

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