Canada becomes 2nd country to legalize marijuana

The Great White North could find itself in a great white puff of pot smoke as Canada makes history by legalizing marijuana.

What started as an election promise by Justin Trudeau in 2015, before he was prime minister, has led to Canada becoming the second country in the world to legalize the production, sales and distribution of recreational cannabis. Uruguay broke the mould in December 2013 but Canada is the first country in the G20 to move forward with pot legalization.

Cannabis is being legalized in Canada through the Cannabis Act, the first alteration to the Canadian Criminal Code as it relates to pot prohibition in 95 years. It allows adults in Canada to do the following:

  • Purchase fresh cannabis, dried cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis seeds, or cannabis plants from retailers authorized by the provinces and territories.
  • Consume cannabis in locations authorized by local jurisdictions.
  • Possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form in public.
  • Share up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis with other adults.
  • Grow up to four cannabis plants per household (not per person) for personal use, from licensed seeds or seedlings from a licensed supplier.
  • Make legal cannabis-containing products at home, such as food and drinks, provided that dangerous organic solvents are not used in making them.

The prime minister placed the responsibility of selling, distributing and regulating marijuana under provincial and territorial governments, who will also be reaping the profits of pot sales, making Canada the world’s largest marketplace for pot stock.

If you wish to consume cannabis in Canada, you could face legal trouble if you fail to follow the rules.

Each province and territory has their own plans for allowing Canadians to legally purchase and consume cannabis, but the differences are key. For example, most provinces allow pot growing in households, but that’s not permitted in Quebec. Most jurisdictions say 30 grams is the limit for personal possession, yet in Quebec, up to 150 grams per person is permissible. British Columbia will allow consumption anywhere that tobacco is allowed, but you can only light up on private property while in Yukon.

On Wednesday morning, the Ontario Cannabis Store website was briefly down after going live at midnight. The government-run online retailer is currently the only legal for avenue for pot purchasing in Canada’s most populous province.

The overwhelming demand for marijuana had been a concern for some wishing to purchase the drug legally. Some economists had warned before legalization that a lack of pot producers in the country could lead to shortages.

See more related to this story:

23 PHOTOS
Legal recreational marijuana sold in California
See Gallery
Legal recreational marijuana sold in California
Customers buy recreational marijuana at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Marijuana is displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A customer browses marijuana products for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Customers queue for recreational marijuana outside the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A customer browses screens displaying recreational marijuana products for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman holds marijuana for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Marijuana edibles are displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Eron Silverstein, 51, (R) shops for marijuana at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Marijuana products are displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Customers purchase marijuana at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensary dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
People wait in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A customer waits at the counter to purchase marijuana as others wait in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Andrew DeAngelo (L) and his brother Steve DeAngelo (R), co-founders of Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, celebrate after a ceremonial ribbon cutting on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
An employee hugs a customer as others wait in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
An employee finds marijuana for a customer at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Employees wait behind the counter at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, as a large clock counts down to the store's official opening at 6am on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S. January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Different strains of marijuana are seen for sale at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A couple poses behind a cardboard Instagram frame while waiting in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Employees prepare to open at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Steve DeAngelo (C) makes the first legal recreational marijuana sale to Henry Wykowski at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S. January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Michael Sherman purchases marijuana at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A customer peers at different marijuana strains in a glass case at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Marijuana is seen for sale at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Journey to ‘Marijuanada’

In 2015, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals ran on a federal election platform that included legalizing marijuana for all Canadians. While the New Democrats offered to decriminalize cannabis, the Liberals were the only major party in Canadian history to make pot legalization a pillar of public policy.

The Liberals argued their plan would keep marijuana away from children, ease the burden on the criminal justice system and get profits out of the hands of criminals.

The platform was part of the reason why Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority government mandate on Oct. 19, 2015.

Trudeau has angled the argument for pot legalization as a way to eliminate the black market for sales, which he says has made it easier for children to buy marijuana than it is to purchase alcohol.

“There’s no black market for beer,” the prime minister said in April 2017. “There’s no black market for alcohol.”

He’s also acknowledged the government’s plan has taken inspiration from the U.S. where recreational marijuana is now approved in nine states.

“We’ve been able to go down and learn from their successes, their failures that has definitely helped inform how we’re going to move forward on a legalization framework,” Trudeau said.

Praise and criticism for Canadian pot

A recent poll by Abacus data suggests an overwhelming amount of Canadians spanning various regions and even crossing party lines support legalization. A staggering 70 per cent of polled individuals said the plan for legalization was exactly what they’d hoped for.

When the bill was approved by the Senate in June, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called C-45, the Cannabis Act,  a “historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada.” The legislation was lauded as a method to “protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime.”

But still, not everyone is happy. Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford accusedthe Trudeau Liberals of “putting people at risk” by “rushing legal cannabis out of the door.”

Canada, however, forges forward, going as far as planning to pardon offenders with simple pot possession charges on their record as well as preparing 13,000 law enforcement officials to deal with marijuana on the road.

While some provinces have asked for more time, police chiefs have said they’re ready for cannabis legalization. There are reportedly 13,000 police officers trained to deter motorists under the influence. 

What drivers can expect on the road

The federal government has approved the use of the Draeger DrugTest 5000, the first roadside saliva-based drug test ever to be used by law enforcement in Canada.

The device will able to detect both cocaine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, minutes after swabbing a motorist. The device has been at the centre of criticism by those who say it isn’t accurate when used in cold temperatures.

Despite the criticism, Trudeau is aligned with most Canadians who say they are united in insisting the move to legalize is the right one to make, surveys suggest.

“By controlling it, by legalizing it, we’re going to make it more difficult for young people to access and we’re going to ensure that criminal organizations and street gangs don’t make millions, billions of dollars of profit every year.”  — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Read Full Story