October 17th, 2018 will go down in history as the day that the people of Canada got ‘lit’ in the most literal sense.
After a year-long initiative fronted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before the election in 2015, recreational marijuana is officially legal across the country.
What You Need to Know
An exciting accomplishment for cannabis users across Canada is legalization. It has also garnered much enthusiasm amongst investors seeking to cash in. Companies such as Canopy Growth, a medicinal marijuana company based out of Ontario, have doubled in size since the end of July and Tilray, a BC-based cannabis producer, has seen an increase of eight-hundred percent since it’s summer IPO launch. However, despite long years of buildup to legalization in many cities across the country, there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the fate of illicit dispensaries.
Rules regarding how individuals must go about purchasing legal cannabis depend on where they live, with one common constant. Online sales are available across all provinces and territories, either via government-operated websites or private retailers. Age limits differ but most provinces have adopted the same guidelines as the legal drinking age. As per the limit that the federal government decided upon when the Cannabis Act was passed in June, most provinces and territories permit adults to possess four marijuana plants per household for recreational use. Quebec and Manitoba are the outliers, with both strongly opposed to the decision. They have enacted their own guidelines for growing plants at home – “a move some lawyers argue could eventually result in a constitutional challenge.”
Another consequence of the June legislation is that RCMP and police officers are now able to conduct roadside saliva tests on drivers they suspect of being high. Drivers with anywhere between two and five nanograms of THC in their saliva face a potential fine of up to $1,000, while drivers with five or more nanograms, or who are also under the influence of alcohol could be hit with heftier fines as well as jail time. The most severe cases will face stricter consequences of up to ten years in prison.
Many legalization advocates are excited about this progressive change, but there are both winners and losers as a result of this decision.
With marijuana officially becoming legal, questions surrounding pardons for those imprisoned for cannabis-related charges, as well as drug-drivers, etc., will supply the legal field with ample business for potentially years to come.
Due to the new legislation, many companies and brands are eager to expand their business into new markets. For example, by partnering with National Access Cannabis Corp. popular Canadian coffee chain Second Cup plans to open multiple recreational marijuana dispensaries, starting in the west and eventually expanding nationwide, and pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart has also received approval from Health Canada to be a licensed medical marijuana producer, allowing stores to dispense medical cannabis to their customers/patients.
Research on the effects of cannabis on the brain has been ongoing in Canada for decades. However, according to Nina Cluny, a pharmacologist at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the “illicit nature of cannabis has limited our knowledge of the effects of cannabis as a whole.” Though the Canadian government did alter its regulation of medical marijuana to make it easier to access a few years ago, they did not do the same for research. Legalization opens a door that has long been locked and presents new opportunities to fill knowledge gaps including, but not limited to, the effects of marijuana use on brain development, mental health, or any health-related issues.
Legalization of recreational cannabis was a cornerstone of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s platform when he was on the election trail back in 2015 and was no doubt a significant factor for many who voted for him. Following through on a promise this large may restore faith in some who do not have a lot of confidence in Trudeau due to his track-record of unkept commitments including approval of the Site C dam, failure to impose action against harmful fish farming practices and the ongoing pain inflicted by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.
As individuals are now able to consume and grow small quantities of marijuana at home, landlords are worried about smoke-related nuisances and damages. Many uncertainties arise surrounding strata properties and the regulation of marijuana growth and consumption from neighbours concerned about the smell to landlord and tenant rights. Bob Aaron, a Toronto-based real estate lawyer, states that landlords cannot “retroactively prohibit smoking inside rental units, but they can certainly include the restriction in new leases.”
The decision to legalize recreational cannabis is no doubt controversial. Though roadside saliva checking technologies have vastly improved, the potential for drugged driving cases and offences committed against the rules outlined in the Cannabis Act have the potential to clog up the courts and make waiting times for trial for other offences excessively longer than they already are.
As legalization provides more access, the value of many cannabis company stocks is decreasing, causing many to dump their investments before values plummet any further.
There are pros and cons to any new legislation and along with that comes people who benefit and people who are upset. In particular, drugs are often a difficult subject to tackle because everyone has a preconceived opinion influenced either through personal experience or anecdotal observations. The critical value to individuals, should they choose to express their legal right to use recreational marijuana, is to practice moderation and responsible thinking. Users must make sure they are in a safe environment with people they trust and, if they need to, organize a safe ride home so they don’t have to drive after using. Most importantly though, is to always know your source. Now that recreational marijuana is legal, one of the most significant silver linings is that it can be regulated to ensure it is 100% what it says it is, allowing for safer usage.
While marijuana legalization may light up some controversy, if we hash it out and embark on a joint effort, perhaps this new legislation will turn us all into buds!