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Justin Trudeau’s liberal government have just managed to pass their weed legalisation bill by a narrow margin.
The Senate voted 44 against 29 to pass the bill. The votes were largely split across ideological lines, with the vast majority of liberal politicians voting for and the majority of conservative senators voting against. Nearly all independent senators voted in favor of the bill, too.
A defeat would have killed this bill, forcing the government to start over again with a new bill that would have to be cleared again. This is down to an established rule that is recorded in the Senate rulebook that is named ‘The Same Question Rule’. This is a very important piece of legislation, and it says, “that a house should not consider the same matter a second time in the same session if it has already made a decision on it,”. So any new weed legalisation push would have to be different enough to avoid breaking this rule and having a chance of getting into law.
There was a justified worry surrounding the prospect of a loss. Two Senate committees were out of town during this week, which meant that some independent and liberal politicians wouldn’t be recent for the vote and unable to contribute.
In an admirable move some senators flew in late Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday in order to vote on the law and prevent its defeat. The defeat would have been highly embarrassing for the liberal government so the absent politicians had a real incentive to travel back to vote.
Conservative senators mounted a harsh critique of the weed legalisation bill. Tory politicians argued that there is potential within the legislation to endanger youth, increase the amount of people consuming weed, and do little to curb the black market sale of illegal cannabis.
“It’s a piece of shit. It doesn’t protect people, it will not exclude organized crime from the production. So, most senators say this bill was written badly,” Conservative Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu told a journalist in a particularly heated interview before the vote.
Justin Trudeau has previously stated that he hopes to have fully legal recreational weed by the summer. While this deadline may be a bit over-optimistic this victory is a big step towards achieving that.