Pres. Trump signals support for legislation easing U.S. ban on pot

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The Senate has approved the Trudeau government's landmark legislation to lift Canada's 95-year-old prohibition on recreational cannabis - but with almost four dozen amendments that the government may not entirely accept.

Nine states, including California, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana use. As part of legalization, the Canadian government will probably inform citizens that admitting to marijuana use might get them barred from crossing the border into the United States of America, which classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with "no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse", according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. That comment got all the headlines, but Trump also responded to a question related to lifting the federal ban on marijuana. Tony Dean, an independent who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

"This legislation will allow adults in Canada to start purchasing marijuana safely and legally from licensed businesses rather than tracking it down through illegal and potentially unsafe channels", Tvert said.

Recreational marijuana sales in Canada could be worth $3.3 billion by 2027, in part because businesses will find it easier to work nationally, instead of piecemeal like in the USA. Uruguay is the only other country to legalize marijuana; many countries have decriminalized it but prohibit sales.

California, home to one in eight Americans, launched the nation's largest legal marijuana marketplace on January 1 but thousands of businesses that have been licensed are still facing the threat of federal prosecution.

Trudeau insisted that creating a regulated market would take it out of the hands of crime groups and "better protect communities and children".

The bill would let states make their own decisions about how they deal with marijuana legalization, without federal interference.

However, many Americans view of cannabis has changed in recent years.

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"Canada is creating a normal industry".

Another bill expands the state's medical marijuana program and allows any health-care practitioner permitted to prescribe controlled substances to write prescriptions. "In Canada, you see tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical companies, all these mainstream industries interested in getting involved".

"Canada is demonstrating extraordinary leadership on marijuana policy", said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project.

That's bad news to Kevin Sabet, who runs the USA -based anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "There are considerable concerns with how Canada is normalizing marijuana".

While the bill passed, senators added more than 40 amendments. In California, which launched legal sales January 1, some prosecutors wiped away those records, and prosecutors in Seattle seek to do the same.

"The fact that Canada is beating the U.S.to the punch on legalization is another demonstration that federal prohibition of marijuana is an untenable position and Congress will have to act soon", said Michael Collins, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance.

Canadians, especially the young, are among the world's heaviest marijuana users.

"We urge the federal government to hear the Senate's voice in order to avoid burdening citizens with the costs generated by unnecessary court challenges", said Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson and Quebec Minister for Canadian Relations Jean-Marc Fournier.

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