Cannabis in Canada Article

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Cannabis in Canada is legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Medicinal use of cannabis was legalized nationwide in 2001 under conditions outlined in the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, later superseded by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, [1] issued by Health Canada and seed, grain, and fibre production was permitted under licence by Health Canada. [2] The federal Cannabis Act came into effect on October 17, 2018 and made Canada the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to formally legalize recreational use of the plant. Whereas decriminalization would simply remove laws restricting the use of cannabis products, as has been implemented in many countries, legalization allows for the taxation of legally produced cannabis. [3] Canada is the first G7 and G20 nation to do so. [4]

Cannabis was banned in Canada from 1923 until regulated medical cannabis became legal in 2001. In response to popular opinion, [5] Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, committed while campaigning during the 2015 federal election to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The Liberal Party of Canada won the election with 184 seats, allowing the party to form a majority government with Trudeau as Prime Minister. [6] The plan was to remove cannabis possession for personal consumption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; however, new laws would be enacted to strengthen punishment of those convicted of either supplying cannabis to minors, or of impairment while driving a motor vehicle. [7]

The legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use ( Cannabis Act, Bill C-45) was passed by the House of Commons of Canada in late November 2017; it passed second reading in the Senate of Canada on March 22, 2018. [8] On June 18, 2018, the House passed the bill with most, but not all, of the Senate's amendments. [9] The Senate accepted this version of the Act the following day. [10] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the next day that recreational use of cannabis would no longer violate criminal law as of October 17, 2018. [11]


Government of Canada signs posted at each United States flight departure gate at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, on 19 October 2018

Cannabis has been illegal since it was added to the country's Confidential Restricted List in 1923 under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill after a vague reference to a "new drug" during a late night session of the House of Commons on April 23, 1923. [12] According to one government official, cannabis was outlawed after the Director of the Federal Division of Narcotic Control returned from League of Nations meetings where the international control of cannabis was broached. [13]:49 Cannabis did not begin to attract official attention in Canada until the later 1930s, and even then it was minimal; [13]:51 the first seizure of cannabis by Canadian police was not until 1937. [13]:48 Commercial cultivation of industrial hemp was forbidden in 1938. [14] Between 1946 and 1961, cannabis accounted for only 2% of all drug arrests in Canada. [13]:112

In the 1960s, cannabis began to rapidly increase in Canada. For the entire period of 1930–1946, the RCMP recorded only 25 cannabis arrests, but this rose to 2,300 cases in 1968, and to 12,000 cases in 1972. [15] In response to the increased popularization of marijuana and the increase in criminal charges against middle class citizens, the government formed the Royal Commission of Inquiry in the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, usually referred to as the Le Dain Commission, in 1969 to investigate the non-medical cannabis use in Canada. [16] The commission's 1972 report recommended removing criminal penalties for cannabis possession, though not legalization, per se. While the subsequent two federal governments discussed the recommendation, no steps were actually taken to change legislation. [17]

In 2001, the country started a medical marijuana program, managed by Health Canada. The program originally offered people access to home grown cannabis or sales directly from Health Canada. This was replaced with new regulations that set up a more traditional commercial sector for cannabis cultivation and distribution in 2013. [18] [19]

On September 15, 2017, Canada's first licence for recreational cannabis distribution was awarded to Organigram Holdings (market name OGI:CVE) by the province of New Brunswick. [20] This marked a milestone for marijuana distribution in Canada.

Steps to legalization

After he was elected Prime Minister in 2015, the first significant step that Justin Trudeau took was the creation of a federal-provincial-territorial task force to discuss a jointly suitable process for the legalization of cannabis possession for casual use. This Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation released a 106-page report to the public on December 13, 2016, with various recommendations. Those were provided for consideration by the federal and provincial governments, but they were not binding. [21] Sales for recreational use will not commence until July 1, 2018, at the earliest, based on legislation (Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act) passed by the federal government in June 2018. [22]

Subsequently, the substance will remain controlled: sold only at government licensed retailers, and grown only by licensed producers. [23] [24] During the federal election campaign, the Liberals had promised "new, stronger laws" against sales to minors, driving while impaired, and sales through channels not specifically authorized to do so. [25]

Until October 17, 2018, cannabis remained illegal (except with a physician's prescription, for medical purposes), as Trudeau reminded police forces across the country in late 2016. He insisted that they "enforce the law": criminally charge illegal storefront dispensaries. Trudeau also explained that the intent of the legislation is not to encourage recreational use of cannabis. The intent is "to better protect our kids from the easy access they have right now to marijuana [and] to remove the criminal elements that were profiting from marijuana", he told the Toronto Star on December 2, 2016. [26]

Marc and Jodie Emery Canada's preeminent cannabis rights activists.

Police forces took the Prime Minister seriously, and in March 2017, raided five locations of the Cannabis Culture retailer in Toronto, one in Vancouver, and another in Hamilton, Ontario. They also searched homes in Toronto, Stoney Creek, and Vancouver. Multiple charges were laid against Marc Emery and Jodie Emery, owners of Cannabis Culture, a company that franchised pot dispensary shops. The couple was convicted in December 2017 of drug-related charges—including possession of marijuana for purpose of trafficking—fined, and placed on two years of probation. [27] Drug-related charges were laid against three others who were also subsequently convicted. [27]

Toronto Police had told the media that the unlicensed cannabis dispensaries are linked to "high-level drug traffickers ... often tied to organized crime, given the amount of marijuana sold". [28]

First Nations chiefs attending the Assembly of First Nations widely agreed that the distribution of cannabis on reserve lands should be governed by First Nations governments, and not provincial legislation. [29]

Final legalization

Map showing which MP's voted in favour (green), against (red), abstained (grey) or whether the seat was vacant (black).

After the House of Commons passed Bill C-45, it was sent to the Senate. On June 1, 2018, the Senate passed an amendment to C-45 outlawing cannabis "brand-stretching". The amendment, which passed 34–28, [30] outlaws the sale and display of cannabis-related merchandise and makes it difficult to publicly promote cannabis once legalized. [30] [31] Do note that this amendment was rejected House of Commons when the bill was returned to the House of Commons by the Senate and does not appear in the final version of C-45 that received Royal Assent. [32]

On June 19, 2018, the Senate finally passed the bill, without the amendment rejected by the House of Commons, and the Prime Minister announced the effective legalization date as October 17, 2018. [33] Canada became the second nation (after Uruguay) to legalise the drug. [3]

As expected, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes became legal across the country on October 17, 2018, under the Cannabis Act which "creates a legal and regulatory framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada", according to a Government of Canada web site. [34] Persons aged 18 or older can possess up to 30 grams of dried or “equivalent non-dried form” in public. Adults are also allowed to make cannabis-infused food and drinks "as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products." Each household is allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants from "licensed seed or seedlings", although Quebec and Manitoba chose to be excluded from this aspect of the legislation. Each province set its own procedures for retail sales, and these vary as to ownership or retail outlets (by the provincial government or private enterprise) but all include an option for on-line sales. Since marijuana is illegal in the US per federal legislation, the government warned that "previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S". Canadians travelling within the country (but not internationally) are allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis. Naturally, driving under the influence of drugs remained illegal. [35] [36]

Public opinion, 1997–2016

"Canada/Cannabis Day", 2014

Since 1997, public opinion polls have found an increasing majority of Canadians agree with the statement, "Smoking marijuana should not be a criminal offence". [37] A June 2016 national poll conducted by Nanos Research showed that 7 in 10 Canadians are in favour of legalization. [38]

By 2006, a high percentage of the population was using cannabis[ citation needed], in spite of the risk of police charges for possession, and especially for selling it without the required licence, according to statistics gathered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Nearly half (44%) of Canadians admit to trying it at least once; no statistics were provided as to the percentage who use it frequently. The CAMH report also indicates that by the last year of high school, nearly half (46%) of Ontario students admit to having used marijuana in the past year. [39] The CAMH discussion includes warnings about the negative effects of cannabis. Other groups also warn about the risk, including the Canadian Automobile Association whose 2016 poll indicated, "Almost two thirds of Canadians are concerned that roads will become more dangerous [due to impairment by the drug] with the legalization of marijuana". [40] An October 2016 national poll by Forum suggests that about five million adult Canadians now use cannabis at least once a month; this is expected to increase by 19 percent after marijuana is legalized. [5] Canaccord Genuity analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka released a research note with a more moderate estimate of the number of users. They predicted that approximately 3.8 million persons will be recreational users (presumably on a frequent basis) by 2021. [41] A report by Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is more bullish, estimating that by 2021 some 5.2 million adults may be users. [42]

Cannabis as a commodity

Example of a container and the recreational cannabis purchase in Canada.
Mandatory cannabis excise stamp on recreational cannabis sold in Canada.

Growers that currently produce marijuana are licensed by Health Canada under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). As of late 2016, there were 36 authorized producers across the country in Health Canada's list. Sales were allowed only by mail order, but by late 2017, some major retailers had applied for a change in the rules to allow them to also sell the product. [43] By December 21, 2017, 82 licences had been issued [44] under the ACMPR, but not all of the producers had been licensed to begin selling medical marijuana. The vast majority of these companies were located in Ontario. [45] At that time, no licences had been issued yet for producing recreational cannabis; the producers already licensed were hoping to be added to that list after it is created. [46] Between February 1 and early April 2018, some 89 additional applicants were approved as cannabis growers by Health Canada; at the time, the agency was considering the merits of another 244 applications. [47]

Statistics indicate that, as of September 2016, nearly 100,000 Canadians had bought medical marijuana legally, a significant increase over the 30,537 in September 2015, presumably since it is becoming a mainstream drug and since supplies are becoming more readily available. [48] According to a StatsCan estimate, Canadians may have spent roughly CAD$6.2 billion (US$4.8 billion) on marijuana in 2015, although the agency admits that there is no scientific method of accurately measuring illegal consumption. [49]

The report by the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation had recommended that recreational cannabis growers should be licensed at a federal level, separately from the producers of medical marijuana. The expert panel also recommended that the process ensure competition by licensing both large and small producers. While licensing should be federal, each of the provinces should be allowed to determine how and where the product will be sold. [50]

After the plans for legalisation [51] became well-publicized, industry analysts reported that some of the producers who had been licensed for medical marijuana, including Aurora Cannabis, were already increasing the capacity of their operations for future sales to the distributors of recreational cannabis. [52]

A report in late November 2017 by Ernst & Young suggested that there would be mergers, leaving fewer players in this industry. "Many believe that consolidation is inevitable, leaving a few large players post-legalization." Also in late 2017, Deloitte predicted that the recreational cannabis market would be worth close to $23 billion. [53] Lately, US Alcohol companies have been showing interest in the Cannabis business in Canada. [54] US Cannabis producers are afraid that Canada is going to be the prime dominator in the market. [55]

Major producers (2018)

As of late October 2018, the largest of the producers licensed by the federal government was Canopy Growth Corporation of Smiths Falls, Ontario; the company was renamed from Tweed Marijuana Inc. in September 2015 [56] after it purchased competitor Bedrocan. Subsequent acquisitions for this corporation included Vert Medical, the German cannabis distributor MedCann, and a majority interest in Quebec's Groupe H.E.M.P.CA Inc. In early December 2016, Canopy announced a friendly takeover bid of another Canadian producer, Mettrum Health (CVE:MT), in anticipation of an expanding market after marijuana is legalized for recreational purposes in 2017. [57] In addition to sales in the domestic market, Canopy Growth began selling medical cannabis products in Germany and Brazil in 2016. The company was described as "one of the world's — and Canada's first — premier exporters of marijuana" by the Financial Post. [58]

Canopy Growth's patient base increased by approximately 260 percent and revenue by about 180 percent in the calendar year 2016 vs. 2015. The increase would have been even greater, but the company had difficulty maintaining adequate stock in some high-demand categories such as mid-to-high THC level products and oils. A report by the Financial Post indicated that inventory shortfalls have been a problem for many of Canada's licensed medical marijuana producers; this could worsen after recreational marijuana is legalized. When the year end report was released, Canopy Growth's share price fell seven percent to $12.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ticker WEED). [59] The December 2016 year end report indicated a profit for the first time in the company's history (3 million in net income). Previously, Canopy Growth had been operating at a loss ($3.3 million in 2015, for example), partly because it was using funds to acquire competitors in preparation for significantly increased cannabis demand by the recreational use market expected to commence in early 2018. In early December 2016, Reuters' survey of four market analysts had indicated a consensus rating of Buy in early December 2016. [60]

In August 2018, Constellation Brands announced that it would invest an additional US$4 billion in Canopy Growth Corporation in advance of the legalization of recreational marijuana. The investment will increase its share in the company from 9.9% to 38%. Canopy Growth president Bruce Linton said the additional funds would be used for international expansion and that future marketing plans included products such as cannabis-infused beverages and sleep aids. [61] [62] After the Constellation deal was announced, the market value of Canopy Growth rose to nearly US$12 billion, [63] [64] roughly $3.7 billion greater than that of the closest competitor Aurora Cannabis. [63]

Earlier in 2018, the second largest producer, Aurora Cannabis, bought competitor CanniMed in advance of the anticipated growth in the market and announced a plan to acquire MedReleaf. [65] [66] It would have distribution agreements in a number of countries, including Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Australia. [67]

By late September, Tilray, Inc. of Nanaimo, a subsidiary of Privateer Holdings had reached a market capitalization about US$10 billion making it the third largest cannabis company in the world, after Canopy and Aurora. [68]

Craft cannabis

Under the Cannabis Act passed in 2018, only producers licensed by the government are allowed to grow the product. As of early October 2018, there were at least 117 such licensed producers. [69]

Although consolidation of the cannabis market in Canada is expected to the point where “a handful of companies will control the majority of the market”, [70] many claim that there is an important need for smaller craft cannabis producers that are “more able to adapt to consumer demand”. [71] The craft cannabis industry has been compared to the craft beer industry [72] – smaller producers who are able to experiment more and provide a wider variety to the larger companies, which will likely try to please as many consumers as possible. However, the difference is that the relatively new rise of craft brewers in a mature market is different than craft cannabis starting at the same time as larger producers (for recreational cannabis). This will give larger producers the edge in the short term since those companies have more money. [73]

The expected buy-in for craft cannabis producers is perhaps slightly higher than craft brewers, [72] but there are other barriers to launching a craft cannabis company including the ability to market product. Cannabis marketing will be closer to tobacco marketing (which is prohibited in Canada with few limited exceptions [74]) cannabis will be sold in plain packaging and traditional advertising such as TV commercials will be prohibited. [75] They will likely not even be able to mention things that could be important to the consumer such as where it’s grown (i.e., “buy local”) and if it’s organic. [76]

Further, simply selling their product may be difficult. The supply chain is still not entirely clear as it is in the beer industry, but there are ways for craft cannabis producers to sell their product through selling to other micro-processors – and potentially larger producers – or applying for a micro-processing licence themselves. [77] As of the legalization date, consumers cannot sample or purchase product directly from a craft cannabis producer’s storefront as you can with craft beer or buy cannabis from a stall on the side of the road as you might from a farmer. However, British Columbia’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth said that the province wouldn’t rule out farmers selling direct to consumer. [78]

Still, most craft cannabis producers are optimistic. One craft cannabis producer told The Globe and Mail that “I think there is a real opportunity there for small independents.” [77] Craft cannabis producers are seen by some as the “artisans of the industry” [79] who will experiment with strains, increase variety, and produce a quality product that it can sell at a premium. [72]

Stock market volatility

At times in 2016, and in 2017, the stock prices of some producers increased significantly as retail investors became more bullish on this segment of the market but then dropped at a later date. [80] Between September and mid-November 2017, the typical stock cannabis producer's value increased by 54%, according to Vahan Ajamian of Beacon Securities Ltd. The share price of Canopy Growth, for example, more than doubled in price during the fall of the year, but declined in mid-November while others, such as Aurora Cannabis, increased at the same time during another volatile period. [81] [82] At the time, analysts could not predict the long-term outcome for any company. [83] A report by Investopedia on November 15 said that most cannabis stocks "can be labeled as penny stocks, so any investment may carry a significantly higher risk component." [84] One of the few Canadian marijuana stocks to trade on a major exchange ( NASDAQ) and not as a penny stock was the late comer Neptune Wellness Solutions. Neptune converted its krill oil extraction plant to focus on CBD oil. [85]

Market analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka of Canaccord Genuity believe that approximately 3.8 million persons will be recreational users (presumably on a frequent basis) by 2021 with a potential for $6-billion of sales. [41] These analysts predicted that after legalization, there may be a "shortfall of supply in the near term" (until about 2020 perhaps) which is likely to increase the product's selling price. Their prediction was based on the government's strict standards which have resulted in few producers becoming licensed under the current system. [86] Presumably the government will relax the qualification standards to increase the number of producers who will be licensed after cannabis is legalized for recreational use but no such plans have been revealed to date. [87]

Some industry observers had warned that "speculation and investor frenzy are fuelling many of the gains". Other observers pointed out that marijuana company values are high but point out that "the players have real products with real sales that are growing, unlike the many dot-com firms that fed that bubble." Nonetheless, "cannabis investors chasing the Big Green Rush are playing a dangerous game," according to Dan Nicholls, Vice President of the Marijuana Index in Los Angeles. "For a first-time investor, stocks are always risky," he said. "You can lose everything you put in, potentially, especially in a market like this." [88] Some market analysts voiced concern about the long-term retail price of recreational marijuana; they predict that it will decline over time after legalization because of competition and bulk sales to provincial governments. According to the CEO of Cronos Group, "It's not going to be 80 or 90 per cent margins forever. There will be a very rapid price compression" after the initial shortage of product is resolved. [89]

The probability of reducing prices as producers' costs decline due to economies of scale was confirmed by the head of the federal-provincial task force in late 2017. The government also intends to keep the net cost to the consumer adequately low so as to virtually eliminate the need for an illegal market but "not so low as to create an incentive for increased use". [90]

Certain investment counsellors also warned clients that marijuana stocks are very risky. [91] According to Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management in Toronto, "It's not the type of investment we'd ever make" adding that he would advise anyone who asks about investing in this sector, "don't do it". [92] In spite of the significant increases in the stock prices of several cannabis producers in early November 2017, few institutional investors were buying such shares because of the uncertainty as to which would succeed and which would fail. [93]

In November 2017, business columnist David Olive of the Toronto Star strongly recommended against investing in this industry. His rationale includes these aspects: there are too many producers for the small Canadian market ("close to 100 players"), retail prices will drop significantly, reducing margins, and the expense ratio is excessively high, so most companies will not be profitable. "Only the most risk-tolerant and speculative-minded investors should go anywhere near it," he warned. [94]

The promise of legalization boosted the price of shares in companies such as Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO), Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED.TO 2.00%), Aphria Inc. (APH.TO), VIVO Cannabis (VIVO-V.TO) and MedReleaf Corp. (LEAF.TO) in November and December 2017. [95] A market analyst explained that the confidence was based on the fact that legal marijuana will not be more expensive, with tax included, than the black market product; this should ensure a sizeable market for producers. [96] Advertising will probably be used to boost sales. The federal task force had recommended that restrictions on ad content should be similar to those for tobacco ads, extremely stringent. The cannabis producers' lobby group, however, was proposing the gentler restrictions that apply to alcohol producers: not to appeal to youth and to promote only the brand, not the recreational use of the product. [97]

As the stock markets approached the year-end closing in 2017, the price of major cannabis stocks surged but Bloomberg News reported that "some analysts are skeptical about demand projections, and betting against the stocks is difficult to do" because there was "almost no stock left to short, and some investors who have taken short positions in the market have lost money", quoting Ihor Dusaniwsky of S3 Partners (investment analysts) in New York. [90] The BCMI Cannabis Report [98] warned that the boom could "end badly", with the bubble bursting as other industries' "manias" had burst in the past. [99]

Developments in 2018

On January 4, 2018, a plunge in prices was being reported by Bloomberg. [100] An update by Forbes in mid-July 2018 indicated that year to date, the Canadian Marijuana (stock) Index had declined by 19.1%, but had gained 132% over the previous year. [101]

In August 2018, Constellation Brands (a beer, wine and spirits producer) announced that it would invest an additional C$5 billion (US$3.8 billion) in Canopy Growth. [102] [103] After the Constellation deal, the market value of Canopy Growth rose to US$11 billion. [104]

On September 20, 2018, Tilray Inc. (TLRY:US on NASDAQ) of Nanaimo, a subsidiary or Privateer Holdings, became the world's largest cannabis company in terms of market capitalization, [105] although 2017 revenue was only US$20 million. [106] However, the share price dropped significantly over the next few days, reducing Tilray's market cap to about US$10 billion vs. the earlier $19+ billion value. [68]

In mid-September, Tilray, Inc. of Nanaimo, a subsidiary of Privateer Holdings became the most valuable cannabis company in the world for a few days, after a 77% increase in its stock price. [106] Days later, that increase had been wiped out, making its market capitalization about US$10 billion vs. the earlier $19+ billion value. [68]

Experts interviewed by Global News in mid-September continued to warn about market volatility. Marc Lustig, Chairman and CEO of CannaRoyalty, for example, said this: "A lot of money has been made that is for sure, but a lot of companies are probably overvalued and it’s risky for investors. Do your research first". [107]

Excise tax and sales tax

From the early planning stages, the government indicated that the substance would be taxed. An estimate in late 2016 suggested revenues of $618 million per year from a federal tax initially, and eventually, billions, according to a report by Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). [42] (A recent government estimate indicates that the illegal marijuana industry is worth $7 billion per year. [108]) The Task Force report recommended that high-potency cannabis (with a high THC content) be taxed at a higher level than the conventional product to make it less attractive to consumers. [109] [110]

The federal government had announced in October 2017 that its budget would include $546 million over five years to prepare the "legal framework to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis" and another $150 million over six years to enforce the restrictions on drug-impaired driving. [111] Health Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will receive a share of the funds. [112] Of this amount, municipal and indigenous police services should receive $81 million to offset the increased cost of training and resources. [113]

On November 10, 2017, the government announced that the federal excise tax, to be shared 50/50 with the provinces and territories, should not exceed $1 a gram or 10 per cent of the producer's price, whichever is higher. The government's press released did not specify higher tax on high-potency products. [114] [115] In December 2017, after demands from provinces for a higher percentage, a two-year agreement was signed to provide a full 75% of the tax; as well, the maximum to be taken by the federal government would be $100 million per annum, with any excess paid to the provinces and territories. The final retail price of the product will include provincial sales tax, [116] ranging from 5% to 15% depending on the province. [90] This arrangement will be discussed again in December 2018 to determine whether the five months of experience indicated that the 75/25 tax splitting scheme had proved to be appropriate. [117]

In provinces where householders would be permitted to grow their own plants, no tax would be charged on such cannabis. [118]

Regulation by province

In Canada, regulation varies province to province, though there are some general rules regarding promotion, packaging, and advertising. Adult-use cannabis can only be sold in packages of a single colour without graphics other than the logo and a health warning. [119] Cannabis companies in Canada will not be allowed to promote themselves through TV commercials, billboards, or glossy magazine ads, sponsor people or events, or put their names on sports and cultural facilities. To address these advertising challenges, some brands are connecting with popular media influencers like Gene Simmons and the Trailer Park Boys. [120]

The Cannabis Act (2018) gave provinces the power to determine the method of distribution and sale and whether cannabis use will be legal inside private residence or homes if children are present in the home 12 or more hours in a day, [121] and each will also establish the legal age for cannabis use. [122] An excise tax will be levied, to be shared with the provinces and territories. [116] According to the federal government, estimated annual sales will be $4 billion (US $3.2b). [90]

The Act (2018) also allows householders to grow up to four cannabis plants, but Quebec and Manitoba announced that they would not permit this option. [115] New Brunswick is specifying indoor growing only in a separate locked space, but will also allow outdoor growing for plants that are up to 1.52m high. [123] [124]

Most provinces have set the minimum age to purchase and consume cannabis to 19 years old, although Alberta and Québec have set it to 18 years old in line with their alcohol and tobacco laws. [124]

Under the newly elected Coalition Avenir Québec government, the Deputy Minister for Health in October 2018, Lionel Carmant announced that the Government will tighten the rules on cannabis consumption, including increasing the legal age to consume to 21 from 18. [125] [126]

Retail distribution by province

After it was known that the federal legislation would give provinces the power to determine the method of distribution and sale, [122] Ontario announced that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario would be the sole vendor, but not through the 651 stores that sell alcoholic beverages. Entirely distinct Ontario Cannabis Store outlets would be opened in select municipalities. [127] [128] [129] The product would also be marketed through online sales, also by the public entity. [46]

In mid-August 2018 however, under the Progressive Conservative government that had been elected in the 2018 Ontario general election, an entirely new plan was formulated. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney announced that after October 17, 2018, the provincial Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp. will handle online cannabis sales and wholesale distribution to private retailers, which are expected to be in place by April. The Corporation will market the product to the public, strictly online. After approximately April 1, 2019, retail stores will open, operated by the private sector while the Corporation will be the wholesaler; it will also continue on-line sales as previously, and it will provide an on-line age-verification system, with 19 as the minimum age. Municipalities will be allowed to opt out of sales via brick-and-mortar stores by January 19, 2019. [130] The province will provide $40 million over two years to help municipalities cover the expenses related to legal recreational cannabis. [131] [132]

As of late August 2018, New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had decided to sell cannabis through government-owned stores, as liquor is sold. [133] Home-growing is not be permitted in Quebec or Manitoba. [134] [132]

British Columbia planned to sell cannabis through some government stores but would allow private sector retail locations as well. Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan have decided to allow private retail sales with liquor control authorities responsible for regulating private stores. All of the provinces, except Manitoba, had some plan for online sales direct to consumers. [133] Quebec planned to open 20 stores, while Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will have 24, 20, 12 and 4 retail locations, respectively. Saskatchewan planned to allow 51 and Alberta will allow up to 250 stores. There will be no cap on the number of private retail stores to be allowed throughout Ontario; applications will be vetted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario which will also inspect the shops after they open. The legislation was expected to state that producers and their affiliates will get a licence to operate only a single retail location at a production facility. "We want to make sure that the market is not dominated by one or two parties," according to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. [135] However, the wording of the plan left some questions that would still need to be answered. [132]Each province set its own procedures for retail sales, and these vary as to the ownership of retail stores (government or private enterprise) but all provinces decided to offer an option for on-line sales. [136]


In early September 2018, the Canadian government released a directive stating that service members will be allowed to use cannabis following legalization in October, but with restrictions on use depending on the individual's duties. [137] Per the new regulations, service members may use legal cannabis, but must cease usage: [138]

  • 8 hours prior to duty: all personnel
  • 24 hours prior to duty: anyone operating a weapon or vehicle
  • 28 days before duty: members involved in high-risk activities such as high altitude parachuting, operating in a hyperbaric environment, and serving on military aircraft
  • on international operations

See also


  1. ^ "Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations". Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  2. ^ "Industrial Hemp Regulation Program FAQ". Health Canada. November 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Sapra, Bani (June 20, 2018). "Canada becomes second nation in the world to legalize marijuana". CNN.
  4. ^ Ross, Selena (June 6, 2018). "All eyes on Canada as first G7 nation prepares to make marijuana legal". The Guardian. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Cain, Patrick (October 12, 2016). "Canada will see 900,000 new pot smokers under legalization, poll implies". Global News. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Zurcher, Anthony (October 20, 2015). "Trudeau brings Liberals back on top". BBC News. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  7. ^ Bronskill, Jim (December 17, 2015). "Tax on legalized pot won't be a cash cow: PM". CTV News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Vaughan, Andrew (March 23, 2018). "Bill to legalize marijuana passes second reading in Senate as Conservatives drop threat to block it". National Post. The Canadian Press. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Anapol, Avery (June 18, 2018). "Canada's House of Commons votes to legalize marijuana". The Hill. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  10. ^ Scotti, Monique (June 19, 2018). "Marijuana legalization Bill C-45 officially passes Senate vote, heading for royal assent". Global News.
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Further reading

External links