The legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada on October 17 ended almost a century of prohibition and is undoubtedly one of the biggest news in 2018.
But we really are at the top of the iceberg in terms of the transition to the legal regime. Here are some of the main stories that must be considered in the new year:
Provinces throughout the country have different levels of preparation for legalization, in terms of preparing their retail schemes. In particular, Ontario and BC, the provinces with the largest gray market pharmacy scene, each have zero and one brick and mortar weed shop each open in time for approval.
In Ontario, the Premier government Doug Ford decided to use a private retail model, initially saying there would be no limit to the number of pot shops in the province. But the province has changed direction, stating that only 25 stores will be allowed to open in April 2019. It is a store that is less than allowed by Kathleen Wynne's plan – 40 provincial-run stores in 2019, followed by 80 stores in 2019 and 150 stores in 2020 Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli told Global News that the province decided to use a phased retail system in response to marijuana shortages across the country. The province also allows cities to choose from hosting retail stores; so far more than a dozen have decided to opt out.
Vancouver's first weed shop will open this weekend. In an interview with Victoria Times Colonist, BC Prime Minister John Horgan said the province would reassess its retail system – which allows public and private shops – to try to accelerate the transition.
Lack of weeds
Marijuana shortages have disrupted the legal system since October 17. In Alberta, where there are private retail systems and 65 licensed stores, the province has stopped distributing licenses because there is not enough supply. In Quebec, government-run stores reduce working hours due to lack of supply.
Insiders and industry experts previously told VICE that the shortfall was due to several reasons: Health Canada did not provide licenses to producers quickly enough; underestimating requests; logistical problems by bringing the product to the shelf; and the challenges that accompany mass production marijuana, which is vulnerable to crop losses. The government has stated that one of its main goals in legalizing recreational weeds is to destroy the black market, so solving the supply problem will be very important in working towards that goal.
Health Canada recently issued a draft regulation for the sale of edibles, which will be ratified no later than October 17, 2019. Some proposed rules include a limit of 10 milligrams of THC per package for cannabis which can be eaten in solid form and drinks; limit of 10 mg THC per unit for consumable extracts and 1,000 mg per package; plain and child resistant packaging; prohibition of mixing with alcohol or nicotine; and the prohibition of products that appeal to children.
One of the main problems with the draft regulation is the limit of THC 10 mg per package. In Colorado and Washington State, there is a limit of THC 10 mg per dose (eg one gummy), but it is legal to have several doses in one package.
The prohibition on products that appeal to children is also potentially confusing. According to the Cannabis Act, there are no legal weeds that can have "appearance, shape, or other sensory attributes or functions that have reasonable reasons to be believed to be attractive to young people." However, it is not clear whether this means something like chocolate or edible versions of cookies will be prohibited.
Drinking is an area where there is enormous interest. Constellation Brands, Corona beer house, invested $ 5 billion in licensed producers Canopy, and Molson Coors Canada has collaborated with Quebec LP Hydropothecary Corporation to develop weed drinks. Earlier this year, Trait Biosciences, a biotechnology research company, told VICE the key to the success of cannabis drinks would be that cannabinoids dissolved in water, so they produced faster (such as a glass of wine) and the effect was more reliable.
Once legal, edibles are expected to take a considerable share of the legal weed market. A Deloitte report from June found that six out of 10 consumers were expected to choose edible cannabis products, and the edible food industry was worth billions in the US.
The Canadian government receives feedback on proposed regulations until February 20, 2019.
The federal government passed a number of new driving regulations which were disrupted in 2018, coinciding with the legalization of weeds. Some of the main points of the new rules:
- The police can now pull the driver and blow it off without being suspicious
- Harsher punishment for drunk driving
- New blood / THC limit, with sentences of up to 10 years in prison depending on the THC level in the blood
- The police will now be allowed to use an oral fluid test on the roadside to determine the amount of THC in the driver's body
Lawyers claim there are some problems with this law, and that pulling over the driver and breathing without suspicion is unconstitutional. There is also no definite relationship between THC levels in a person's blood and disorders. In addition, there are concerns about oral fluid testing devices that are not fully accurate at all temperatures. Hoping to see some of these laws challenged in 2019.
Facing mounting pressure, the federal government finally announced a plan to speed up the Canadian pardon with criminal records for possession of simple pots.
In particular, the government said that Canadians who have held their tenure will not have to face a $ 631 pardon fee, and they also do not have to go through a waiting period (five to 10 years) after serving their sentences to file pardons. An accelerated process is likely to take place next year, but its efficiency remains to be seen.
Amnesty supporters argue that the government will not be far enough because it does not offer to erase the records of the convicts, which means they will still have criminal records.
There are around 500,000 Canadians who have criminal records for weed ownership and the VICE News investigation found that blacks and native Canadians were disproportionately arrested for ownership.
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