"This is Not a Joke": Marijuana Legalization in Canada

On April 13, 2017, PM Justin Trudeau proposed his plans to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Canada. This move would make Canada the second nation in the world after Uruguay to completely legalize cannabis for everyone. Compared to the reluctant stance of the US federal government, the Canadian authorities are hard at work to make this happen by July 2018.

The ten major provinces of Canada are the key players in the process of legalization, as the regulations of the free cannabis market will largely depend on their legislation. Out of those provinces, only Alberta, New Brunswick, and Ontario have some preliminary ideas on how to operate their emerging cannabis markets. The rest are now in the middle of heated public consultations regarding the regulation of the cannabis products.

Marijuana Dispensaries & Permits

Even though the legislation has federal backing, there are many issues that need to be ironed out, such as their stance on the international law. In the meantime, many unofficial dispensaries have started to sprout in Vancouver, putting the authorities in an awkward position since legislation is underway. 

So far 59 federal licenses have been issued, but most of the growers aren't currently authorized to sell cannabis.

Ian Dawkins, president of the Cannabis Commerce Association of Canada, stated that the licensed growers are only supplying about 5% of the total market, medical and recreational.

"If they're going to block the existing craft producers from getting licensed, where is this cannabis going to come from? The licensed producers are not equipped to increase their capacity that much, it's simply not feasible," said Dawkins.

Dawkins additionally commented that a legalization process that includes smaller producers will be more effective for the newly forming marijuana retail system. 

"You could, with very few additions, make everything quite safe and put it well in line with international norms from places like Colorado and California (...) Cannabis is the third largest sector of our GDP by size. This is not a joke. If we screw this up, if Ontario screws this up, if the feds screw this up, [British Columbia] is hooped," said Dawkins. "This is not a small thing to get wrong. This is a massive part of our economy, whether you like it or not."