Legalizing Recreational Marijuana, Canada Begins a National Experiment

Legalizing Recreational Marijuana, Canada Begins a National Experiment

What Canadas legalization of marijuana means for travelers

Share Share Toronto police to Canadians: stop snitching on your neighbors about marijuana tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images The Toronto Police Service has a message for Canadians: Please stop narcing on your neighbors about marijuana.

With the official start of marijuana legalization in Canada on Wednesday, and retail stores opening across the country (although not in Ontario until April), the Toronto police force started a public awareness campaign to inform people that they should no longer snitch on their neighbors about marijuana use.

Some of that public awareness campaign took the form of a few snarky tweets, invoking truly absurd 911 calls (from people asking for directions to asking what to do with frozen meat during a power outage) alongside calls about marijuana as examples of what not to do. The tweets urged people to no longer call the police about an adult smoking a joint, your neighbours pot plants, or [s]melling weed coming from your neighbours home.

The 5 Keys to Success for Marijuana Stock Aurora Cannabis

Asking for directions because youre lost is not a 911 call. Reporting an adult smoking a joint isnt either. Cannabis is no longer illegal on October 17, 2018. Consumption is allowed anywhere cigarette smoking is allowed except in a motor vehicle. Do not call police for this ^sm

Asking police to call your friend because you are out of minutes is not a 911 call. Calling about your neighbours pot plants isnt either. Cannabis is no longer illegal on October 17, 2018. Up to four cannabis plants will be allowed per household. Do not call police for this ^sm

One of the more overlooked aspects of Canadas legalization is that the domestic market isnt worth nearly as much as international markets over the long run. A report from Health Canada pegged annual domestic demand at roughly 1 million kilograms, with a handful of provincial reports looking for closer to 800,000 kilograms. However, peak production for all growers should easily exceed 3 million kilograms. This excess will be targeted at foreign countries where medical marijuana is legal.

Asking what to do with your frozen meat during a power outage is not a 911 call. Smelling weed coming from your neighbours home isnt either. Cannabis is no longer illegal on October 17, 2018. Consumption is allowed for anyone 19yrs or older. Do not call police for this ^sm

The tweets are funny, but they also speak to the huge change that Canada has brought on. Marijuana has been illegal in Canada for generations. This has shaped peoples views in all sorts of ways, up to enabling neighbors to snitch on each other over cannabis use. Officials across Canada now have to work to change not just the laws, but also the social norms and rules at work here.

On Wednesday, more than 100 legal marijuana stores opened for business in Canada, supplied by around 120 licensed growers, according to the Associated Press. Hundreds more stores are expected to open in the years to come.

Between now and, say, the end of 2020, Wall Street and investors will be looking for Aurora to stay on track and on budget with its core facilities. This includes the overseas retrofit of greenhouses in its joint venture with Alfred Pedersen & Son (Aurora Nordic); its organic build spanning 1.2 million square feet in Medicine Hat, Alberta, known as Aurora Sun; and the ongoing expansion of around 1.1 million square feet owned by ICC Labs.

This will allow both Canadians and travelers to the country to legally buy marijuana for recreational use for the first time.

Although this is a long-awaited day for the legal weed industry, its perhaps an even bigger day for investors in marijuana stocks. You see, since the beginning of 2016 weve witnessed a number of pot stocks rise by more than 1,000%, and now the time has come for those companies to put up or shut up, so to speak. In other words, the time for promises is over, and investors are eagerly awaiting tangible sales and profit results.

Theres one major exception: Ontario, Canadas most populous province and where Toronto is located, wont allow sales until April. The newly elected conservative government there said it needs more time after it replaced previous plans for government-run stores (similar to state-run liquor stores in the US) with plans for private outlets. But residents will be able to buy pot online and get it through the mail in the meantime, and grow up to four cannabis plants per residence.

As of the end of its fiscal 2018, Aurora Cannabis had operations in 18 countries and five continents. But, once again, were talking about relatively nascent operations with the green flag officially waving in Canada as of today (Oct. 17). What skeptics like myself are going to want to see is Aurora specifically focusing its attention on these foreign markets thatll likely make up well over half of its annual sales. 

The beginning of sales follows the passage in June of Canadas Cannabis Act, which legalized marijuana possession, home growing, and sales for adults (18 and older). The federal government is overseeing remaining criminal sanctions (for, say, selling to minors) and the licensing of producers, while provincial governments are supervising sales, distribution, and related regulations — as such, provinces will be able to impose tougher rules, such as raising the minimum age. In Ontario, for example, the age has been set to 19.

One such marijuana stock that Ive been highly skeptical of in recent quarters is Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQOTH:ACBFF). Despite being the third-largest pot stock by market cap — and expected to lead its peers in aggregate annual production — Aurora has a lot to prove if its to maintain or build on its lofty valuation. But if Aurora Cannabis can master these five keys to success, it could prove me wrong.

The move makes Canada the first wealthy nation and the second country in the world to legalize pot for recreational use. Only the South American country of Uruguay legalized marijuana before. (The Netherlands, despite its reputation, has not fully legalized pot.)

Aurora Cannabis has gained itself quite the bullish flock of investors, and theyre all laser-focused on the companys peak production potential of 570,000 kilograms, according to the company. Mind you, this peak estimate doesnt include the ongoing acquisition of ICC Labs for just over $220 million, which should easily push Aurora above 600,000 kilograms annually when at full capacity.

Marijuana is still illegal in the US at the federal level, even though nine states have legalized for recreational use at varying degrees.

So Canadas move is drawing a lot of attention around the world. And how it all shakes out could help determine whether legalization in Canada is a sign of things to come across the globe.

Aurora may be the kingpin of growth potential, but it has some serious catching up to do compared with, say, Canopy Growth Corp., which has whats arguably the most recognized weed brand in the country in its portfolio (Tweed). Canopys sales channels and branding make it a formidable foe in the cannabis space.

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The companys Aurora Nordic project will play a key role in facilitating this foreign presence by supplying an estimated 120,000 kilograms, or more, of medical cannabis to the Scandinavian region of Europe. Look for Aurora to really focus on its international expansion strategy over the next couple of quarters.

MONTREAL — Canada on Wednesday became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana, beginning a national experiment that will alter the countrys social, cultural and economic fabric, and present the nation with its biggest public policy challenge in decades.

Across the country, as government pot retailers opened from Newfoundland to British Columbia, jubilant Canadians waited for hours in line to buy the first state-approved joints. For many, it was a seminal moment, akin to the ending of Prohibition in the United States in the 1930s.

The big day has finally arrived. Today is the day that recreational marijuana is legalized for sale across Canada, making it the first industrialized nation in the world, and only second overall behind Uruguay, to give adult-use cannabis the green light.

It was also an unlikely unifier, coming at a time when Canada has been buffeted by bruising trade talks with the United States and has seen its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, repeatedly ridiculed by President Trump. Canada is the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize marijuana.

One quick note: With the exception of oils, alternatives products including infused beverages, vapes, concentrates, and edibles, arent legal yet. Parliament is expected to discuss and broaden the options for consumption in 2019.

I have never felt so proud to be Canadian, said Marco Beaulieu, 29, a janitor, as he waited with friends outside a government cannabis retailer in the east end of Montreal. Canada is once again a progressive global leader. We have gay rights, feminism, abortion rights, and now we can smoke pot without worrying police are going to arrest us.

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Legalization of cannabis is the largest public policy shift this country has experienced in the past five decades, said Mike Farnworth, British Columbias minister of public safety.

Its an octopus with many tentacles, and there are many unknowns, he added. I dont think that when the federal government decided to legalize marijuana it thought through all of the implications.

Of course, Coca-Cola has had discussions with a cannabis company before that didnt go anywhere, so itd be unwise to count your chickens before theyre hatched.

In a stinging editorial published on Monday, for example, the Canadian Medical Association Journal called the governments legalization plan an uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.

Jonathan Hirsh smokes a joint during a “wake and bake” event on the day Canada legalizes recreational marijuana, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos OsorioMarijuana enthusiasts in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province, kicked off the first permitted sales at midnight. Over 100 people braved the cold and wind in the provincial capital St. John’s, lining up outside a Tweed-branded store owned by Canopy.

Under Canadas new federal cannabis act, adults will be allowed to possess, carry and share with other adults up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, enough to roll roughly 60 regular-size joints. They will also be permitted a maximum of four homegrown marijuana plants per household in most provinces.

Shares of Canadian cannabis companies retreated on Wednesday after rallying in the run-up to legalization. Canopy Growth Corp and Aurora Cannabis, the world’s two biggest cannabis producers, pulled back as much as 8.6 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively, early Wednesday after touching record intraday highs in the previous session. The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF, which also climbed to a record on Tuesday, slid as much as 8.2 percent.

[Yes, Canadians can grow their own, but not in every province. No, it wont be legal for kids to smoke. Heres what you need to know as Canada legalizes marijuana.]

“There will be a lot of celebrations on the day, and it will almost all be with illegal cannabis” in some of Canada’s biggest cities, said Brad Poulos, an instructor and cannabis business expert at Ryerson University in Toronto. “Recreational cannabis users in Canada . . . will just continue with their (existing) sources of supply until the legal system catches up.”

Marijuana for medical purposes has been legal in Canada since 2001, and about 330,000 Canadians, including cancer patients, are registered to receive it from licensed producers.

British Columbia, which plans both province-run and private outlets, has only one government store, 350 kilometers (220 miles) from its biggest city, Vancouver. No private store licenses have been issued so far and many municipalities are waiting until after local elections on Oct. 20 to give their approvals for stores, province Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said.

Pre-rolled joints, fresh or dried marijuana flowers, and cannabis oil are all permitted under the law. Cannabis edibles — like pot-infused jelly beans, peanut butter and coffee — wont be legal for another year.

“The criminal prohibition that was in effect for a century in this country has failed our kids and our community,” Bill Blair, minister of border security and organized crime reduction, told reporters. The change will bring “order to every aspect of the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis,” he added.

According to Canadas national statistics office, 4.9 million Canadians used cannabis last year and consumed more than 20 grams of marijuana per person.

Separately, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Wednesday said the government would waive the fee and waiting period when people who have been convicted of possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana apply for pardons, after they’ve served their sentences. The legislation will be introduced by the end of the year, he said.

On Wednesday morning, the government announced that it would introduce legislation to make it easier for Canadians who had been convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana to obtain a pardon.

The move is a political win for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who vowed to legalize cannabis during his 2015 election campaign. The pledge was aimed at taking profits away from organized crime and regulating the production, distribution and consumption of a product that millions of Canadians consume illegally.

While the government is not offering a blanket amnesty, Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister, said at a news conference in Ottawa that as a matter of basic fairness, the government would seek to end the minimum waiting period of five years to apply for a pardon as well as waiving the fee of 631 Canadian dollars.

Even in provinces with more shops, shelves are empty likely because of a shortage of product. A study by the University of Waterloo and the C.D. Howe Institute economic policy think tank found legal supply will satisfy under 60 percent of demand in the early months, though that will change as production increases.

The federal government has left the countrys 13 provinces and territories to carry out the new legislation and set their own rules, creating a patchwork of regulations. Among many open questions are how the police will test drivers who may be high and how employers deal with employees who smoke before coming to work.

TORONTO/ST JOHN’S, Newfoundland (Reuters) – Canada became the first industrialized nation to legalize recreational cannabis on Wednesday, but a lawful buzz will be hard to come by in its biggest cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where stores are not yet open.

Bernard Le Foll, a specialist in addiction at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, a leading teaching hospital and research organization, said that although the center supported legalization, he was concerned that the public dissemination of information about risks had been insufficient.

Cannabis is not a benign substance, Dr. Le Foll said. There is a clear risk of addiction, and it can produce significant mental health issues if used by the wrong kind of people.

Law enforcement of those driving under the influence of marijuana could be patchy. In August, Canada approved a device to detect levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element in cannabis, in a driver’s oral fluids.

He added, 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.

“When the law changes on the 17th, we’re not going to see a big change overnight,” Palmer said. “Police aren’t . . . champing at the bit to go out and start raiding stores.”

Jean-Sébastien Fallu, an associate professor of applied psychology and a specialist in addiction at Université de Montréal, said he particularly worried about the effects on young people.

However, with many provincial governments only approving a small number of shops so far and a shortage of weed supplied to these stores, many Canadians will likely be smoking black-market pot on Wednesday.

We dont want young people to feel stigmatized, for example, if they dont use cannabis, Professor Fallu said.

The legalization of cannabis has led to a so-called green rush, with licensed cannabis growers pressing to get a foothold in what is expected to be a $5 billion industry (6.5 billion Canadian dollars) by 2020, buttressed by the expected arrival of thousands of pot tourists from the United States.

After months of soaring share prices, though, the first day of legal marijuana sales initially saw steep drops in the value of marijuana stocks. That reversed somewhat in the afternoon, leaving the largest companies shares down just slightly by the end of trading. Many analysts say the value of legalization was long ago priced to the shares value.

At the government cannabis store in Montreal — one of 12 in Quebec — a line stretched across a long city block on Wednesday morning. Some of the hundreds of people had waited since 3:30 a.m., anticipating the stores 10 a.m. opening.

Ontario, home to Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, will have no stores until April 2019 due to a change in the province’s retail model by a new provincial government.

Kate Guihan, 29, a beautician, said she planned to celebrate the historic moment on Wednesday night with several puffs on a joint. The low cost of government pot, she added, was a big draw for her, along with the fact that legal marijuana was screened and devoid of contaminants.

We are witnessing history, said Shawn King, the host of a countdown to legalization on a local radio station. Marijuana prohibition is ending after 96 years. Theres going to be a generation of people that never knew it was ever banned.

The federal government and many provinces have been cautious, starting with limited stores and products, including no edible pot for a year, and tight control over supply.

Inside a government retailer in Halifax that looked like an Apple store, shoppers browsed for products including Ghost Train and Lemon Skunk. Bongs were on display. Some shoppers bought weed, and others accessorized.

In New Brunswick, the government cannabis agency provided a step-by-step guide on its website on how to roll a joint.

The stated rationale for legalizing cannabis was to tame an illegal multibillion-dollar trade. But from Toronto to Winnipeg to Vancouver, hundreds of illegal shops have indicated that they have no intention of shutting down, and the black market supply chain remains deeply entrenched.

In Toronto on Wednesday, revelers — some wearing T-shirts that said Weed Won — packed a cannabis lounge in the citys bohemian Kensington Market, where some were smoking black market pot to the sound of reggae music.

In Vancouver, dozens of illegal marijuana dispensaries defied the new law by selling, among other things, outlawed edible cannabis and marijuana-infused face creams.

Chief Constable Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department, who is also the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said this week that at a time of limited resources, policing marijuana would not suddenly become law enforcements primary concern.

Fentanyl kills 11 Canadians a day, he said, referring to the powerful synthetic opioid that is a public health scourge in some cities like Vancouver. Marijuana does not.

Ian Austen contributed reporting from Ottawa, Meagan Campbell from Halifax, and Catherine Porter from Toronto.

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