Marijuana set to become legal across Canada
DELTA, British Columbia (AP) — Mat Beren and his friends used to drive by the vast greenhouses of southern British Columbia and joke about how much weed they could grow there.
Years later, it’s no joke. The tomato and pepper plants that once filled some of those greenhouses have been replaced with a new cash crop: marijuana.
Beren and other formerly illicit growers are helping cultivate it.
The buyers no longer are unlawful dealers or dubious medical dispensaries; it’s the Canadian government.
On October 17, Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace.
Uruguay launched legal sales last year, after several years of planning.
It’s a profound social shift promised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fuelled by a desire to bring the black market into a regulated, taxed system after nearly a century of prohibition.
It also stands in contrast to the United States, where the federal government outlaws marijuana while most states allow medical or recreational use for people 21 and older.
Canada’s national approach has allowed for unfettered industry banking, inter-province shipments of cannabis, online ordering, postal delivery and billions of dollars in investment; national prohibition in the U.S. has stifled greater industry expansion there.
Hannah Hetzer, who tracks international marijuana policy for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, called Canada’s move “extremely significant,” given that about 25 countries have already legalised the medical use of marijuana or decriminalised possession of small amounts of the drug.
A few, including Mexico, have expressed an interest in regulating recreational use.
At least 109 legal pot shops are expected to open across the nation of 37 million people next Wednesday, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces.
For now, they’ll offer dried flower, capsules, tinctures and seeds, with sales of marijuana-infused foods and concentrates expected to begin next year.