Canada Becomes 2nd Country to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
October 17, 2018, marks an important day in Canadian history.
It’s the first day in 95 years that cannabis is legal across the country. They’re the second country in the world to legalize it since the world first started prohibiting it in the early 20th century.
As the new laws are ushered in, and a new era of legal cannabis use is born, is Canada destined to be the new leaders in the industry? They certainly think so.
How do these new laws work? Where will they go from here? What does this mean for the rest of the world?
Canada Is The Second Country To Legalize Weed
Uruguay took the title for the first country to legalize weed since global prohibition. They legalized 4 years back in 2014.
In Uruguay, cannabis can be sold at special, approved pharmacies without a prescription. Users can also grow up to 6 plants at home legally.
These laws only apply to Uruguay citizens, however, preventing any growth in tourism directly related to the change.
Other countries are edging their way towards legalization as well, but progress is slow.
Several American states have legalized it in recent years, but the plant remains illegal at a federal level.
Countries with higher than average marijuana use per capita have decided to decriminalize, including Spain, Portugal, and Jamaica. This was more of a push to lower the prosecution rates in the countries than a push for global expansion.
These systems don’t allow businesses in the cannabis sector to thrive the way Canadian pot businesses already are.
What’s Different About Canada’s Legalization Program?
Canada is setting itself up to earn big in the cannabis industry.
For the past couple of years leading up to legalization, Canadian companies have been hard at work preparing for the explosive growth in the new market sector.
Even large companies like Molson Coors (a large-scale brewery) have joined the party, investing millions in a new cannabis-infused beverage.
The work done in the years leading up to the legislation change have positioned Canada to produce some of the highest quality weed in the world, on a massive scale. Their goal appears to be market domination.
The new laws allow citizens to hold no more than 30 grams on them at a time and can have 4 plants growing at home.
The laws will remain strict about selling cannabis to minors, similar to their alcohol laws. The penalty of selling to minors could leave you facing a 14-year jail sentence.
Canada Is Gearing Up For Massive Profits In The Burgeoning Cannabis Sector
In 2015, Canadians spent roughly $6 billion on 700 tonnes of cannabis, according to Statistics Canada.
Cannabis revenue has since been rising at about 1% per quarter since this time but is expected to reach 7 billion in 2019.
The laws are set out to allow businesses to thrive. The federal government predicts $400 million in tax revenue in the first year alone and explosive growth throughout the country. There are currently about 2 dozen publicly traded companies in the cannabis sector, with a combined market value of $23 billion.
The current growth has them on track to become larger than the liquor market by the year 2020.
The Events Leading Up To Legalization In Canada
Canada added marijuana to the Confidential Restricted List back in 1923. It was essentially viewed as being useless and damaging to society. Later the hemp variety was excluded from the list to allow textile manufacturers access to the fibrous stems.
Once medical relevance of the plant was quantified through scientific research done in the 80’s and 90’s, the legislation changed, allowing those who would benefit from the medicinal uses of the plant to gain access to it.
In 2001, medical cannabis was officially legalized in Canada.
Over the last 17 years, interest in cannabis among the Canadian population has grown substantially. A lot of this growth is thought to be the result of the medical classification given to it.
It took the stigma away from the herb, helping people learn about what it is, and what it’s not.
Even 5 years ago if you were to walk through a Vancouver park, you’d catch whiffs of weed smoke floating through at any given point in the day.
Vape bars and dispensaries started to pop up with questionable legal status in downtown Vancouver. Nobody ever did anything about it.
Now that weed is legal, the cannabis market in Canada is set for explosive growth.
Is Canada Ready?
Nova Scotia became the first province to sell legal weed in Canada.
With customers lined up around the block, it didn’t take long before dispensaries were completely sold out.
The trend followed the rest of Canada as the sun moved its way across the country.
There were only about 110 legal shops scheduled to open on October 17th following the new legislation, however, online dispensaries have already been serving Canadians for the past year.
It’s suspected that the demand for marijuana will be higher than dispensaries and growers will be able to meet. Analysts believe there will be a shortage of the herb for the next year until production can ramp up to a level that can sustain the demand.
In places like Vancouver, which already has well-established medical cannabis dispensaries, the change isn’t likely to affect much, however, it’s unclear if police are going to close in on these dispensaries to make room for government licensed legal dispensaries or not.
The next year is going to bring massive changes to the Canadian cannabis sector, as market supply and demand levels out, and the country establishes a balance between the new legal dispensaries and the old medical outlets.
Why Did Canada Legalize Cannabis?
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, pointed out in 2015 that their then 92-year-old laws around marijuana were ineffective. Marijuana use in Canada has been higher than the global average for the past 30 years.
His goal for legalization was to take cannabis out of the hands of minors. He also aimed to shift the beneficiaries of the highly profitable industry from criminals, to tax-paying corporations and local business owners.
How Does This Affect The Rest Of The World?
Canada aims to set the bar for the rest of the world in terms of Cannabis laws.
Over the next year, they aim to collect detailed statistics on the changes. This data can then go through varying levels of analysis to see how its affecting other industries, crime rates, and overall profitability.
Other countries like South Africa, The United States, and Zimbabwe, remain close behind, ready to legalize within the next couple of years.
This is a rapidly changing space, so stay tuned.
About James Reed
James Reed is the founder and editor-in-chief at iSum. He’s a big advocate of marijuana and spent most of his time writing about these topics, sharing what he learned over the years.
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