Canadian adults may now own 30 grams or grow 4 plants.
A national celebration.
In Toronto, a huge crowd gathered to watch a giant marijuana bud drop at the stroke of midnight, in imitation of the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. People across the country waited in line for as long as seven hours to be among the first to legally buy pot in their local stores. “I have never felt so proud to be Canadian,” one of them told The New York Times.
Adults are allowed to own, consume, and share with other adults up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, enough for about 60 joints. In Alberta and Quebec, that applies to anyone over 18; it’s anyone over 19 in the rest of Canada. In most provinces, adults can grow up to four plants, but not Quebec or Manitoba–and in British Columbia you can be fined or jailed if your cannabis plants are visible from a public space. Pot won’t be sold in the same stores as alcohol or tobacco, and only in government regulated shops. For now, the marijuana plant (fresh or dried), cannabis oil and pre-rolled joints are all legal. Pot-infused edible products will become legal in another year. Canadians (unlike Americans) can buy pot online from government stores, and the Times reports that online sales have been so strong that inventories are already running out.
Even though cannabis is legal within Canada, it’s illegal to bring it into the country, even if you’re traveling from one of the U.S. states where it’s legal as well. (Officials warn travelers not to try it.) Meanwhile, those with past convictions for 30 grams or less will be fast-tracked for pardon, officials say.
Not everyone is happy.
Although the majority of Canadians support legal cannabis, some in the health care field have raised concerns, particularly about the potential for cannabis to be addictive or that young people may feel peer pressure to try it. “It took decades for the public to understand the risks of cigarettes, and the legalization of cannabis has taken place only over a few years,” Bernard Le Foll, clinician scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto told the Times. Others wondered if the government has taken the time to think things through, although legalization has been in the works since 2015 and was voted in back in June.
There’s lots of money to be made.
Cannabis is a $9 billion industry in the U.S. and expected to be a $5 billion industry in Canada, with a lot of that money coming from international “pot tourists.” It explains why even consumer giants like Coca-Cola are now toying with the idea of including some form of cannabis in their products. Canada’s legalization has created what some are calling a “green rush,” with a wide range of companies jockeying for the best position to grab market share quickly. When legalization widens to include cannabis-infused edibles and other products, it might be a real free-for-all.