Trudeau’s Legal Pot Law Nears Finish Line Ahead of Summer Recess

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is sending his legal marijuana law back to the Senate in what are likely the final procedural steps that could see the bill be approved in coming days.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the government disagrees with 14 amendments to Bill C-45 made by the Senate last week, according to a notice in the House of Commons official agenda for Wednesday. The government accepted two dozen other changes.

Trudeau’s Liberals campaigned three years ago on making Canada the first G-7 nation to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, and the prime minister has pushed for the market to open this summer. However, Conservative senators have slowed passage of the legislation before a summer recess set for June 22, adding to time pressure.

The House of Commons will now vote on Wilson-Raybould’s response, and the government’s majority means it will almost certainly pass. Such votes can be scheduled quickly. The Senate typically can respond in as little as a day or two, so if it drops its push for the changes rejected by the House, the pot law could be signed by the Governor General this week.

It would be rare for senators, who are appointed to the upper house, to halt bills sent from the elected lawmakers in the lower house.

“I don’t think that the Tories actually want to halt it or stop it,” Canopy Growth Corp. Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton told BNN Bloomberg TV on Friday after the Senate passed the amended bill. “You really don’t win elections by telling 70 percent of the electorate they are wrong” in their favorable view of a legal market, he said.

Marijuana sales could reach C$7.2 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2019 according to a report from Deloitte LLP. Provincial governments, who are in charge of setting up retail stores, have moved ahead with building some retail locations. Federal officials say it could take up to 12 weeks after the law passes for sales to begin.

The amendments the government “respectfully disagrees with” include allowing provinces to restrict the growth of marijuana plants in private homes. Some other changes cover ground already handled elsewhere in federal rules, the notice document said.

Trudeau remains confident he’ll deliver on his pledge. “We will create a controlled and legalized framework for marijuana before the end of the summer,” the prime minister said in a Bloomberg Businessweek Debrief interview in Toronto last month.

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