Canada primed for pot legalization

October 16, 2018 by Jacques Lemieux, Michel Comte
A Montreal cannabis store owned by the SQDC (Société québecoise du cannabis), a day before the legalization of cannabis in Canada

Pot stores across much of Canada were poised to throw open their doors Wednesday as the sale and recreational use of cannabis is made legal for the first time by a major Western country.

Stores in St. John's, capital of eastern Canada's Newfoundland province, will be the first to open their doors to pot enthusiasts as of 12:01 am local time on Wednesday.

"I'm going to have a lot more variety than the black market dealers, so you have a lot more choice at our store. The prices are very comparable," Thomas Clarke, owner of THC Distribution store, told public broadcaster CBC.

On the eve of legalization, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the historic but controversial change, which has been welcomed by entrepreneurs but sharply questioned by medical professionals.

"We're not legalizing cannabis because we think it's good for our health, we're doing it because we know it's not good for our children," he said as he arrived in parliament.

"We know we need to do a better job to protect our children and to eliminate or massively reduce the profits that go to organized crime."

Canada's Cannabis Act, which fulfills a promise Trudeau made in the 2015 election campaign, lifts a 95-year prohibition, and makes Canada only the second nation after Uruguay to legalize the drug.

A warning label on 1gram of cannabis is seen at Up's cannabis factory in Lincoln, Ontario

Demand is such that retailers in Manitoba and Nova Scotia retailers are expecting to quickly run out of product, citing a supply shortage.

In Ontario, buyers will have to wait for their pot to arrive in the mail, after it is ordered online—until the opening of retail storefronts in 2019.

773 tonnes of cannabis

Canadians consumed 773 tonnes of cannabis in 2017.

Despite the government's hopes, the black market is not expected to disappear overnight. To make that point, the CD Howe Institute noted that the federal government has licensed enough producers to supply only 30 to 60 percent of demand in the first year.

Bill Blair, a former police chief in Toronto who is Trudeau's pointman for pot legalization, remains optimistic, however, that the legal market can grab as much as half of share of the market from illicit dealers within the first year.

"Many people think of legalization as an event, but it's a process," Blair told AFP.

Employee Jason Gagne trims cannabis plants at Up's factory in Lincoln, Ontario
"For almost a century, criminal enterprises had complete control of this market, 100 percent of its production and distribution and they profited in the billions of dollars each year. I suspect they're not going to go gently into the night," he said.

Fully shutting down the black market will likely take up to four years, according to Justice Department documents cited by Canadian media.

All will depend on the selling price of legal weed being lower than the street price.

According to Statistics Canada, prices have fallen in the past year to an average of Can$6.79 per gram.

That prompted some licensed retailers to drop their pricing schemes to better compete, such as in Quebec where it will sell for Can$5.29 per gram including taxes, officials announced Tuesday.

"There is no doubt that Canadians are in unknown waters," Brian Palmer, president of the Canadian Police Association, said Monday, while assuring citizens that police are ready to stop drug-impaired drivers.

Opposition parties accuse the government of having rushed legalization, saying municipalities, police and are struggling with health and law enforcement implications of legalization.

Estimates of the consequences of legalising recreational cannabis in Canada.

Some doctors have also criticized the move. But Blair insists legalization aims to improve health outcomes.

"We have developed a public health framework for the regulation of cannabis that focuses very clearly on social and health harms for the first time," he said. "It's not a criminal model, it's not a commercial model, it's a model."

In regards to youth and pot, he said: "Police will be able to seize the drug, issue a ticket, where it's appropriate take kids home to their parents, and render that situation safe without giving that kid a lifelong stigma of a criminal record."

"The fact that some individuals want to cling to a prohibition model that has led to the highest rates of use of any country in the world is a little shocking to me."

According to a recent Abacus Data poll published on Monday, a majority of Canadians (70 percent) accept or support legalization.

If anything goes wrong, however, the Trudeau administration is likely to suffer for it in next year's general election, Abacus president Dave Colletto told Canadian media.

Explore further: Canada makes final preparations before cannabis becomes legal

Related Stories

Canada makes final preparations before cannabis becomes legal

October 12, 2018
Canada will soon become the second country in the world to legalize cannabis—with the provinces left to work out the details of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's landmark measure.

If cannabis use increases after legalization, government must alter the act

October 15, 2018
If cannabis use increases after legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17, the Government of Canada should commit to changing the act to prevent negative health effects, argues an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical ...

Canada doctors wary of cannabis legalization

October 15, 2018
Canada's top medical journal warned Monday that the imminent legalization of cannabis for recreation use poses a major health concern despite broad support for ending the prohibition.

Canada is ready to open the door wide to legal marijuana

October 16, 2018
Tom Clarke has been dealing marijuana illegally in Canada for 30 years. He wrote in his high school yearbook that his dream was to open a cafe in Amsterdam, the Dutch city where people have legally smoked weed in coffee shops ...

In Canada, pot legalization poses health and safety challenges

October 15, 2018
Canada will end its pot prohibition Wednesday with the goals of curbing the black market and use by youth, amid concerns around the public health and safety merits of legalization.

Canada poised to legalize recreational marijuana

June 7, 2018
Canada's Senate is set to vote Thursday on legalizing recreational marijuana, a move that would make the country the first member of the Group of Seven nations to legalize the production, sale and consumption of the mind-altering ...

Recommended for you

Teen personality traits linked to risk of death from any cause 50 years later

November 20, 2018
Personality traits evident as early as the teenage years may be linked to a heightened or lessened risk of death around 50 years later, suggests observational research of 'baby boomers,' published online in the Journal of ...

One in four U.S. adults sits more than eight hours a day

November 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—Couch Potato Nation: Nearly half of Americans sit for far too many hours a day and don't get any exercise at all, a new study finds.

Emotional abuse may be linked with menopause misery

November 19, 2018
Smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have long been linked to heightened symptoms of menopause. Now, a study headed by UC San Francisco has identified another factor that may add to menopause torment: an emotionally ...

Bullying and violence at work increases the risk of cardiovascular disease

November 19, 2018
People who are bullied at work or experience violence at work are at higher risk of heart and brain blood vessel problems, including heart attacks and stroke, according to the largest prospective study to investigate the ...

How AI could help veterinarians code their notes

November 19, 2018
A team led by scientists at the School of Medicine has developed an algorithm that can read the typed-out notes from veterinarians and predict specific diseases that the animal may have.

US paves way to get 'lab meat' on plates

November 17, 2018
US authorities on Friday agreed on how to regulate food products cultured from animal cells—paving the way to get so-called "lab meat" on American plates.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.