Justice minister: marijuana still illegal for now

Driving under the influence of drugs has always been — and will remain — against the law

The federal government is basking in the glow of its newly realized plan to legalize marijuana, but it is reminding Canadians that pot remains illegal in this country until the Cannabis Act goes into effect.

The government’s companion legislation on impaired driving is also expected to pass soon, said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, but she added that driving under the influence of drugs has always been — and will remain — against the law in Canada.

“I urge all Canadians to continue to follow the existing law until the Cannabis Act comes into force,” Wilson-Raybould told a news conference Wednesday in the foyer of the House of Commons.

RELATED: Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has a news conference of his own scheduled for later in the day, was expected to provide more details on precisely when that might be.

Bill C-46, a companion bill that Wilson-Raybould predicts will give Canada the strongest impaired-driving rules in the world, will also become law “in the near future,” she said.

Until then, “I would like to also remind the public that driving while impaired by drugs is, and will remain, illegal.”

It was clear, however, that there are still more questions than answers about what Canada’s nascent legal-pot landscape will look like — how police will test motorists, what to do about those with prior marijuana convictions and just how the rules governing home cultivation will work.

Quebec and Manitoba have already decided to ban home-grown pot, even though the federal bill specifies that individuals can grow up to four plants per dwelling.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to end its opposition to certain aspects of the federal bill, most notably the plan to permit Canadians to cultivate marijuana plants at home. A proposed Senate amendment would have prevented legal challenges to their constitutional right to do so.

Wilson-Raybould called the legislation — which still requires royal assent to become law — “transformative” and predicted it would protect young people and keep organized crime out of the pot market.

“C-45 marks a wholesale shift in how our country approaches cannabis,” she said.

“It leaves behind a failed model of prohibition, a model that has made organized crime rich and young people vulnerable…. our shift in policy will protect youth from the health and safety risks of cannabis and keep those same criminals from profiting from its production, distribution and sale.”

Senators last week approved almost four dozen amendments to C-45. The government accepted 27 of them and tweaked two others. But it rejected 13 amendments.

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan attempted Tuesday to have the home-grow amendment reinstated — which would have sent the bill back to the House of Commons and could have set the stage for a protracted parliamentary battle between the two houses of Parliament.

RELATED: Legal pot not a public health or safety threat

But senators voted 45-35 not to insist on that change.

Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, leader of the independent group of senators, said C-45 was “a bit of a stress test” for the new, less partisan Senate.

“I think the new Senate came out very well. We worked very hard on reviewing the bill, proposing amendments” but ultimately deferred to the will of the elected House of Commons, as unelected senators should, he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Raccoon gang blamed for dozens of Abbotsford cat deaths and injuries

Video shows raccoon gang’s pursuit of feline left with broken leg and lacerations

It’s about to get hot: Special weather statement issued for Lower Mainland

Temperatures expected to rise and stick around till next week, Environment Canada forecasts

OPINION: Playing with vigilante fire

Kids, don’t try this at home: Why taking the law into your own hands is probably a bad idea

Highway crashes double in Fraser Valley, truck traffic also up steeply

Unclear if doubling of Fraser Valley highway crashes is linked to spike in truck traffic

Sandy Mathies is running for Chilliwack city council

Creating affordable housing options and keeping the community safe are two of his platform planks

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

SilverStar officially opens Gondola

The brand-new gondola is now offering scenic rides for visitors on SilverStar Mountain Resort.

VIDEO: Man climbs crane in Abbotsford

Police, fire called to deal with climber last night

VIDEO: Langley City legendary water fight was a soaking good time

And perfectly timed for a hot weather warning

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

B.C. Lions claw their way back to score 20-17 victory over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Bombers, who beat the Lions 41-19 last week in Edmonton, fell to 2-3 with the loss

Most Read