Moscow has accused Ottawa of trampling on international law, which it says explicitly prohibits any circulation of weed unless it’s for medical or scientific purposes. Canada has become the first Western country to legalize pot.
The scope of international treaties, of which Ottawa is a signee, does not allow for any “exceptions” or “flexible interpretation” of the principle that states the use of drugs must be limited to medicine and research, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday after Canada’s “Cannabis Act” became law on Thursday.
By legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, Canada “commits a deliberate and flagrant violation of its international obligations it assumed under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention of Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances,” the ministry said.
Such “drug liberalization” will become a “serious obstacle” on the way to a drug-free society, it warned, calling on Canada’s fellow G7 members to stand up to its “arbitrariness.”
“We expect, that Canada’s “arbitrariness” will merit a response from its G7 partners, since this group has repeatedly declared its commitment to the rule of law in interstate relations,” the ministry added.
Last week, Canada became the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to make the use of recreational marijuana and its cultivation, including at home, legal. After both chambers of the country’s parliament voted to approve the bill, it was granted a royal assent by the governor general on Thursday. The Queen’s approval is a largely formal but necessary step to make a bill into a law.
— RT (@RT_com) July 20, 2017
It was initially expected that law would be enacted within 8 to 12 weeks, however, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the law will not take effect until October 17. The delay is needed so the provinces that were vocally opposing the bill have enough time to make adjustments to their local laws, he said.
While the bill was introduced into the parliament in November, it went back and forth between the chambers until it was reconciled. Still, several provinces, namely Quebec, Nunavut, and Manitoba, vowed to contest the law in court. At the center of their concerns is the provision that paves the way for the home growing of the plant. While the provinces are fighting for the right to be able to ban the practice outright, the federal law enables them only to cap the number of plants from the four per household that is permitted by The “Cannabis Act” to just one.
The passing of the law has become a major milestone in the country’s policy towards drugs. Although the medical use of marijuana has been legal, the recreational use of cannabis was criminalized in 1923. The pledge to abolish the long-standing law was one of the key pre-election promises of Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party, which received a majority of the seats in the 2015 general elections.
The government argues that by legalizing pot it will squeeze the street gangs, which have been profiting from a thriving black market, out of the trade, which is to be put under the control of the government. Canadians will be able to buy weed in shops, which should be licensed by the government, as well as online. In an attempt to prevent adults, who will be eligible to buy weed, from overindulging, the authorities limited the amount they can purchase to 30 grams.
Critics of the legislation say that it will fail to eliminate the black market, only causing a surge in demand. It was estimatedthat the legal recreational marijuana industry can generate up to $4.3 billion in profits in the first year after the law is enacted.