The day has finally arrived. Canada is about to become the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana.
It’s been in the works ever since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015. And now, our neighbors to the north are on the eve of legalizing cannabis in all of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories.
“It’s amazing that Canada has taken this position, setting the stage for the world to watch as we show how cannabis legalization is a good thing,” Robin Ellins, the owner of a cannabis accessory shop in Toronto told The Guardian. “We’ve spent a quarter of a century advocating for legalization. And now, it’s here.”
Sure, not every single T is crossed nor is every I dotted, but that’s fine.
In fact some newspapers are pointing out that rules and regulations, some not yet announced, conflict from one part of the country to the other, leaving some Canadians confused.
But we as Americans, with our zany patchwork of legalization and overriding federal ban, are not at all confused. We’ve seen it all before.
Some Canadian provinces such as Ontario, the most populous, won’t be seeing any pot shops open until April 1. During the interim, people can buy weed online from a government-run site. This will also be the case for British Columbia.
Quebec is scheduled to have 12 government-run shops open on Wednesday, says the New York Times.
Saskatchewan has 51 privately-run stores ready to start selling; Alberta has 17.
Only purchases from officially recognized pot shops are legal now. Illegal shops have just one day to close. The Ontario government has said that if they don’t shut down, they’ll be blocked from the legal retail market when it opens in April, 2019.
Selling a few joints here or a couple of ounces there, are subject to fines or even jail time.
Naturally, giving weed to a minor is illegal and also carries serious penalties.
“The danger in this is that people are going to go out and think that they’re using a legal substance and will use it in a variety of ways that may seem innocuous, but could result in criminal charges,” Abby Deshman of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association told The Guardian.
In a press conference on Oct. 15, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), warned against stoned driving, saying their sobriety testing methods are already in place.
The Canadian police, said the head of the CACP, generally doesn't see any major problems on the horizon with legalization.