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Pot Becomes Legal in Canada

Country becomes world’s largest marijuana marketplace as the Cannabis Act takes effect

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland -- Canada has officially decriminalized the use of recreational marijuana, becoming the second country after Uruguay to do so. It is now the world’s largest legal pot marketplace. In June, Canadian lawmakers voted to legalize recreational marijuana, a mandate that went into effect on Oct. 17.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted news of the Cannabis Act—the country’s stamp on decriminalizing the substance—early Wednesday morning. “Profits out of the hands of criminals. Protection for kids. Today #cannabis is legalized and regulated across Canada,” he tweeted.

Canada first legalized medical marijuana in 2001. With the Cannabis Act, the Canadian government looks to eliminate the illegal cannabis market and prevent youth from accessing marijuana altogether.

Sales began Oct. 17 at legal marijuana shops in St. John's in the far western Canadian province of Newfoundland. At least 111 of these stores are expected to open throughout Canada, including Toronto by next spring, according to the Associated Press.

According to the Cannabis Act, consumers who are 18 years or older—depending on province—may possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis without consequence. These individuals may also purchase cannabis products from brick-and-mortar or online retailers and grow up to four plants per residence.

Legal cannabis products will have an excise stamp—similar to those seen on passports and banknotes—to prevent forgery. Edible marijuana, marijuana concentrates and other pot-based products will be available for purchase around this time next year once the Cannabis Act has been further developed.

Canada is ahead of the United States regarding the decriminalization of pot. Although 30 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, only nine have done so for recreational use. Marijuana remains illegal in the United States, and those who are caught with unlawful amounts are subject to arrest and prosecution.

C-Stores' Role

Marijuana may make its way into Canadian convenience stores, too. In June, Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the parent company of Circle K convenience stores, hired a lobbyist to represent its interest in retail-marijuana sales. According to a Canadian Press report, the company wants to make Circle K part of Quebec’s pot distribution plan.

“We wish to let the government know we are willing to be part of the cannabis sales model that will be selected,” Couche-Tard said in a statement provided to CSP Daily News in 2017. “We are convinced we can be an ideal partner in the implementation of a sales model responsible towards the citizens."

Legal cannabis products will have an excise stamp—similar to those seen on passports and banknotes—to prevent forgery. Edible marijuana, marijuana concentrates and other pot-based products will be available for purchase around this time next year once the Cannabis Act has been further developed. Canada is ahead of the United States regarding the decriminalization of pot. Although 30 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, only nine have done so for recreational use. Marijuana remains illegal in the United States, and those who are caught with unlawful amounts are subject to arrest and prosecution.

Photo: Shutterstock

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