Legalization of cannabis was promised by Justin Trudeau in 2015 and now that he is prime minister, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the production, sales, and distribution of recreational cannabis. Uruguay was the first to do so in December 2013, but Canada is the first country in the G20 to move forward with pot legalization.
“The prohibition on marijuana has not worked in this country,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “Young Canadians have the highest usage of marijuana anywhere in the world … criminal organizations and street gangs make over C$6 billion a year on the sale of marijuana across the country… That needs to stop and that’s exactly what we have done.”
The federal government and many provinces have been cautious, starting with limited stores and products, including no edible cannabis products for a year, and tight control over supply.
The prime minister placed the responsibility of selling, distributing and regulating cannabis 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.
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 is one constant across the country: Online sales are available in all provinces and territories, whether via private retailers or through government-run websites. E-commerce giant Shopify, which will manage online sales for four provinces, is confident its system will be able to handle the volume.
But there are distinctions across the county with respect to age limits and retail models. Minimum age limits for purchasing and consuming cannabis vary, but most provinces mirror their rules for alcohol.
In most provinces and all territories, adults are allowed to possess four marijuana plants per household for recreational use. That’s the limit the federal government imposed when it passed the Cannabis Act in June.
Day two of legal recreational cannabis in Canada on Thursday saw more long lineups outside pot stores and supply shortages in parts of the country, AFP reported.
Most consumers were exuberant about the end of prohibition, but a few expressed disappointment over not being able to buy cannabis on the first day.
In many parts of the country, particularly those with few stores, much of the legal sales action was online, as consumers flocked to websites run by provincial governments and licensed retailers to buy legally, despite a few days’ wait for delivery and extra charges.The online stores using Shopify Inc’s e-commerce software across the country were processing more than 100 orders a minute, and had millions of visitors in the first 12 hours, an external spokeswoman said. Some websites ran out of popular products.
“What changes is that now I can use it openly, without people coming and challenging my right to use it,” said Peter Hasek, a music teacher who grows the plant at home and was attending an end-of-prohibition party at a downtown Toronto coffee shop.