In Canada, the date October 17th, 2018 looms large. For those not familiar, recreational marijuana is set to be legalized in Canada on that day, becoming just the second country worldwide to fully legalize the plant for commercial sales. With the dawn of a weed-legal society on the horizon, there are plenty of things to consider within the brand-new industry. And, unsurprisingly, as many await anxiously for the October 17th unveiling, there is also no shortage of detractors wishing that these changes to cannabis laws in Canada would never come.
However, despite your own personal thoughts on the plant, there is one thing everyone can, for the most part, agree . There will be a lucrative market for legal marijuana. The effect of the economy cannot be understated.
With just over two weeks left until the blockbuster unveiling, let’s take a look at some of the large-scale changes to cannabis laws in Canada ahead of the full-scale legalization.
Previous Cannabis Laws In Canada
Obviously, recreational marijuana hasn’t been legal in Canada up until now, but what, exactly, were some of Canada’s cannabis laws? Let’s go back to the late 90’s, when marijuana made a huge resurgence after years of stringent prohibition.
In 1923, under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill, marijuana had a place on Canada’s Confidential Restricted List. Additionally, the cultivation of cannabis was illegal in 1938 under the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act. It wasn’t until around 1998, that some of the stigmas were removed from the plant. This includes some of the harsh laws surrounding it.
That year, industrial hemp was grown and available for commercial use. Previously, only a few experimental growers were permitted to grow cannabis under Health Canada guidelines.
Then, in 2001, medical marijuana became fully accessible under Health Canada for those suffering from a varying degree of qualifying conditions. This became the first regulated form of legal, consumable marijuana in Canada.
The set of regulations, deemed the Medical Marijuana Access Program allowed medical marijuana for symptoms (classified as either Category 1 or Category 2). This includes epileptic seizures, severe pain, arthritis, MS, HIV, anorexia, severe nausea, and cancer, amongst others.
In 2014, the Medical Marijuana Access Program was no more, and the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (or MMPR) came into law. Most of the main components of the program remained the same. However, this time, legal medical cannabis production became allowable for licensed producers. In other words, patients with the proper licensing, as well as licensed caregivers, could grow their own marijuana plants.
In 2015, the true definition of medical marijuana became inclusive to more than the classic flower. Edibles, oils, and tinctures became permissible, amongst other forms of non-smokeable cannabis.
October 17th Changes to Cannabis Laws in Canada
So, how will the landscape of legal marijuana change on October 17th? Well, essentially, you don’t have to have an illness to smoke some legal ganja.
Back in June, the Senate approved Bill C-45, or more simply known as The Cannabis Act. This effectively made Canada the first prosperous country to fully legalize the plant. They are the second country overall, only behind Uraguay.
As previously stated, the Bill will go into effect on October 17th. It will fully legalize recreational cannabis possession, home cultivation, and retail sales for adults over the age of 18.
Under Bill C-45, Canadians can purchase up to 30 grams of the plant. Each province will be responsible for retail sales of the plant. Marijuana will be available through physical locations or through marijuana delivery services. Additionally, adults can grow up to four plants for their own personal use, if they prefer their own homegrown product.
Several companies have already begun the process of making marijuana-infused edibles and beverages. However, they will not be legal on the outset of recreational legalization. However, Canadians can still make their own at home.
As for packaging, companies can market their product how they see fit. This is as long as nothing on the containers may appeal to the youth, such as cartoon characters, superheroes, etc.
What Does It All Mean For Canadian Marijuana Users?
So what do these changes to the cannabis laws in Canada mean for marijuana users? Well, for starters, no longer will they be in legal trouble for smoking the plant. This is as long as they’re not smoking it in a public place. Even so, they will only be subject to fine. Similar, of course, to public drinking.
However, arguably the most important thing Canadians can take out of this is the effect it will have on the economy. Experts predict the industry will generate around $1.3 billion for 2018. About $700 million of that revenue coming from the brand-new recreational market.
The money that the now-legal recreational industry will generate from taxes alone could be incredible. What that money will go towards, however, no one knows as of right now. Either way, the future looks bright in Canada.