Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

Canada to pardon small-scale pot convictions

Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg via Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 18 October, 2018, 10:24

Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana with stores opening at midnight Wednesday to serve queues of keen pot smokers.

Throughout the country huge lines outside pot shops snaked around city blocks.

There were reports that it would legal on Canada Day, but the date was moved back until the fall.

In Kamloops, at British Columbia's only legal shop open and run by the government, a line started forming at 6:00 am PT (1300 GMT), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

"I'm elated. I'm so excited, I can't stop smiling".

"I don't need to be a criminal anymore, and that's a great feeling", said MacIsaac, who in 2001 had been arrested for possession in Saskatchewan. "We're not legalising cannabis because we think it's good for our health". "We don't have to hide it anymore".

The largest are publicly traded on the Toronto and NY stock exchanges.

Hoping to keep pot users away from dealers of harder drugs, the Netherlands in the late 1970s began allowing "coffee shops" to sell marijuana.

The ability of the legal market to displace the black market rests heavily on price - an analysis conducted by the consulting firm Deloitte pre-legalization put the average price of illegal weed at $8.24 across Canada. Around 4.9 million already smoke.

A senior government official earlier told The Associated Press that those convicted of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana would be eligible for a pardon.

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For now, Vancouverites (that are 19 years of age or older) will be able to purchase legal cannabis online, or by travelling to Kamloops to check out the only currently open brick-and-mortar store.

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.

Sales of derivatives like edibles will be legalised next year. (Here, for instance, are the city of Calgary's rules.) There is no current law on how much you can have at home, but there are limits on how much you can grow. US companies either exploring or barreling into the cannabis trade include Coca-Cola and Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona beer. "You can evaluate prices on the black market across Canada, and it's in Quebec that the prices are the lowest".

Here's a look at some of the first Canadians to get their hands on legal pot.

Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who is Trudeau's pointman for pot legalisation, remains optimistic.

Tilray is the largest pot company, with a market value of nearly $15 billion.

"We hope that the most immediate impact of Canadian legalization is that it galvanizes supporters of ending prohibition in the USA and convinces members of the industry here to increase their efforts in support of reform", Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told 420 Intel in an email.

Goodale noted that Can$2-3 billion was spent annually to police cannabis and consumption still rose. On Monday, polling firm Abacus Data reported that 70 percent of Canadians - across all parts of the country and political affiliations - support or can accept legalisation.

The nationwide market for cannabis opened on Wednesday at midnight amid lingering questions about the impact on health, the law and public safety.

Some doctors, however, remain wary. Until then, the only legal channel to buy weed is online through the Ontario Cannabis Store.

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