Canada’s cool with pot, right?
Instead of electing nativist fearmongers, Canadians elected a youthful, hopeful liberal prime minister in Justin Trudeau—whose Liberal government promises to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis in time for the spring thaw.
That sounds nice. But in the meantime, Canada already has a massive cannabis industry, a clandestine market worth nearly $3.7 billion to consumers (in American dollars). What’s happening to them in the meantime? Why, they’re getting raided, of course.
Marc Emery is Canada’s “Prince of Pot,” a title he paid for with a five-year prison term served in the United States for selling seeds. Emery “helped set up the franchise” that runs a downtown Toronto marijuana dispensary called Cannabis Culture—one of several nationwide that have set up shop following Trudeau and the Liberals’ election in 2015.
And Cannabis Culture was raided by Toronto police just a day before the BBC paid a visit to the city to see how chill everything is, according to the network.
For Emery, that’s a bad sign of things to come. Just as bad is just who the Liberals have put in charge of liberalizing the country’s cannabis laws. Take who the Trudeau Administration selected as its “point man” on legalization. Why, it’s Bill Blair, Toronto’s former chief of police. Working with him is a collection of “politicians… public health officials, and academics”—none of whom know anything about marijuana except that it’s illegal, Emery told the BBC.
“Here’s all these non-smokers telling us how it’s going to be,” Emery told the network. “It’s like straight people telling gay people how they’re going to live their lives.”
People like Emery may also be forced out of any legal market that emerges in Canada. Canada also stands alone in being the only country in North America—indeed, the only country we can name in the world other than Israel—where the federal government has given the OK for companies to produce cannabis. There are 36 companies with licenses from Health Canada to grow marijuana. (Until recently, these federal producers were the sole source of cannabis for Canada’s patients). To get a license requires significant capital, which means relative newcomers to cannabis who can command power in business may be the ones to inherit a legal marketplace.
“We have all these people who are actually newcomers who don’t have any experience with the product and now they’re saying: ‘We’re the legitimate ones and you’re the evil profiteers,'” as Chris Horlacher, president of consulting agency Jade Maple told the BBC.
Meanwhile, Canadian officials are due to release a report on just how to legalize as early as the middle of this week.
Among the possible recommendations from the nine-person panel, which considered input from 30,000 members of the public, are prohibiting cannabis for anyone under 21 and regulating potency for anyone under 25.
That will be a hard sell with the country’s consumers, many of whom are aged 15 to 24, according to a report in the Globe and Mail. Meaning after legalization, many of them may be found with Marc Emery—wherever they end up.
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