When full adult-use cannabis legalization goes into effect on July 1, 2018, it won’t be the equitable, community-oriented legislation many legal weed advocates in Canada had hoped for. It won’t grant amnesty to any of the 22,000 people the country arrests for weed every year. The law won’t even legalize edibles. But what it will do is give a massive advantage to the major corporate entities already dominating Canada’s medical marijuana system. And the rest is up to the country’s individual provincial governments. Yet a quick survey of Canada’s marijuana plans suggests most provinces don’t have a solid plan at all.
Is The Law Throwing A Wrench In Canada’s Marijuana Plans?
From the looks of it, Canada has quite a lot of work to do if the country is to get things together by the time legalization goes into effect in July.
Even the police are scrambling. They say there’s no chance they will be ready to enforce new laws for nationwide legalization by next summer and are requesting a delay.
Within the provincial governments themselves, major questions remain to be settled such as age limits, licensing and dispensary ownership.
That’s because the legislation leaves it up to the provinces to decide how cannabis will be distributed and sold and at what prices.
One of the stickiest issues is whether the government or private companies will own the retail locations that will sell weed to customers. Companies which already own medical cannabis dispensaries are in the best position to pivot to the recreational market.
Hence, many analysts expect to see a wave of mergers and acquisitions among cannabis companies. Exactly the Big Marijuana corporate takeover many critics of the law feared.
Another problematic issue is that of regulation. Should cannabis be subject to provincial liquor control boards? Or should the public get to weigh in?
What all this means for the future of Canada’s marijuana plans is that the nation will become a variegated landscape of different rules and regulations generally adhering to a nationwide framework: legalizing individual possession and gifting up to 30 grams with a limit of four plants per household, and a minimum age limit of 18.
Breaking Down Canada’s Marijuana Plans By Province
Again, provincial governments will decide on three major variables: regulation, age limit and dispensary ownership. But things like online sales, commercial cultivation and public consumption are also up for debate.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are among the governments entertaining higher age requirements for weed purchases. But they’re still taking public comments on the issue.
British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are trying to figure out how to regulate cannabis sales through their government-run liquor boards, and whether or not to allow exceptions for smaller retailers.
Newfoundland and Labrador are currently deadlocked in a debate over private versus government-owned dispensaries. Citizens tend to favor private ownership, while health and justice authorities prefer government control.
In an attempt at compromise, British Columbia is pursuing a hybrid public-private plan modeled on the province’s current liquor laws.
Alberta and Manitoba, on the other hand, plan to sell marijuana exclusively through private-sector storefronts and online stores.
And then there are the more unique ideas. New Brunswick, for example, is entertaining requiring users to keep their cannabis under lock and key in their residence. And Manitoba wants to let municipalities enact bans on retail stores.
Despite all these differences, there is one through-thread each province has in common. And that’s the fact that for the most part, they aren’t sure what their plans actually are.
Most are still awaiting or analyzing the results of online surveys or holding open meetings with residents. Ultimately, however, governments have as yet set no real policy.
True, July 1 is still a long way away. But not that long. So over the next seven months, much remains to be seen regarding Canada’s marijuana plans going forward.