After pot law passed key vote, is it legal to toke?

Even after the Senate passed the historic bill to legalize recreational marijuana use Thursday, the question remains: how soon can Canadians start lawfully toking up?

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That time could still be months away, despite the Liberals’ initial promise the law would change by July 1. Thursday’s vote was the final major hurdle in the marijuana legalization process, but there are still a number of steps to go before ending the 95-year prohibition.

The bill now goes back to the House of Commons, where members of Parliament will accept, modify or reject the senators’ more than 40 amendments.

If accepted, the final step—royal assent—could still take days or weeks.

If rejected, the bill will go back to the Senate and could ping-pong between senators and members of Parliament again for several weeks.

When the bill is finalized and becomes law, it would still take 8 to 12 weeks for provinces and territories to prepare for retail sales. The products will need to be packaged and labelled appropriately, shipped to distributors and retail outlets, and staff at all stores will need to be trained accordingly.

For those who prefer not to smoke, the sale of edibles and concentrates such as marijuana gummies and oil could take up to another 12 months to be authorized, but only after the current legislation comes into force.

Among the more than 40 amendments to Bill-C45 that members of Parliament will now examine are the ability for provinces to ban home cultivation and barring cannabis companies from giving out branded merchandise.