Canada becomes second country in the world to legalise cannabis

18 October, 2018, 00:11 | Author: Carlos George
  • Cannabis plants grow in a greenhouse in Pelham Ontario Canada

- The Canadian government is ready to pardon those with a pot possession record of 30 grams or less after Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace Wednesday.

The announcement comes as Canada ushers in a new era of legal recreational cannabis use today.

Canada has had legal medical marijuana since 2001 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has spent two years working toward expanding that to include recreational marijuana. In December 2013, Uruguay was the first country to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana.

Marijuana enthusiasts in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada's easternmost province, kicked off the first permitted sales at midnight. "I am so happy to be living in Canada right now instead of south of the border".

Capsules containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, will be sold in packages of 30 for $34.99 and pre-rolled joints will range from $4.20 to $54.99 depending on whether they're purchased in half-gram, full-gram or multi-pack options.

Cannabis NL expected 22 stores to open on October 17, but not all opted to open in the middle of the night to commemorate the event. Over 100 people braved the cold and wind in the province's capital St. John's, lining up outside a Tweed-branded store owned by Canopy Growth Corp., the world's most recognised cannabis producer.

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Ontario's Progressive Conservative government recently announced cannabis would initially be sold online through a government agency, followed by private retail stores in April. That will determine how each incident is handled, she said. Canadian officials have said they want to take a "public health approach" to limit youth access to pot, displace the illegal market, and ensure safety requirements for cannabis, according to a fact sheet on the initiative.

Other provinces, like Alberta, will have cannabis available in provincially-run stores on Wednesday for all adults over the age of 18.

Canada needs to "take a deep breath" as US states such as Colorado and California did not have a seamless system at the outset either, said Cam Battley, chief corporate officer for licensed producer Aurora Cannabis. In Colorado, for instance, dried flower use made up 47 percent of last year's fourth-quarter sales, with demand for edibles and concentrates growing especially fast.

Canada's government also made changes to impaired driving laws to address repercussions for driving under the influence of cannabis.

And while Canada may ultimately be a smaller marijuana market than California - the bank CIBC predicts it will become a $5 billion industry in the country by 2020 - the symbolism of being the first G7 country to legalize the plant means the whole world is watching. Tobin, a longtime convenience store owner, said they will be cutting a ribbon and cake. She hopes to make money from pipes, bongs and marijuana paraphernalia.

Meanwhile, industry players and watchers have said to expect product shortages at the outset. Quebec's new government has vowed to raise it further, to 21. "That's not even paying someone's salary".

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