The era of legal weed in Canada arrives Wednesday in a slurry of harried news coverage – Questions! Questions! What will happen? What does it mean? What about the children? The drivers? Organized crime?
Here at the precipice, legalization seems so stuffed with months of context and confusion, talk of frenzied investors, concerned police and politicians drafting and tweaking and arguing about dozens of different municipal, provincial, territorial and federal regulations. From this murky soup, we bring you the best of our coverage of the cannabis conversation. It’s all you need to make sense of this day.
How we got to here
In a Scarborough restaurant, before the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau met with Bill Blair, the retired Toronto police chief, and talked about legalizing weed – one of Trudeau’s signature campaign promises. Blair would become Trudeau’s point man on the legalization file, shepherding the Cannabis Act from drafting to Royal Assent. In the National Post’s sprawling oral history of legalization, 15 policymakers and industry insiders tell the story of how the vast social and economic project took shape.
Why it’s complicated
This Financial Post investigation on the obstacles keeping licensed pot producers from getting product to market on time is a good primer. The biggest obstacle? A little stamp.
Legal weed and where to find it
In Ontario, the government has changed hands and changed its mind, abandoning state-run pot stores in favour of legal, privately-run ones. The switch-up made for one of the more jumbled legalization roll-outs in the country, with Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives using a centralized online shop as a stop-gap while it figures out how best to issue private retail licences.
In New Brunswick, however, the province’s government-run liquor corporation, NB Liquor, is ready with 20 brick and mortar Cannabis NB stores and 330 staff, all with at least 100 hours of training. Delays in B.C. mean the province only has one government-run store ready to open Wednesday, along with an online store promising delivery with 48 hours. For its part, Canada Post says the rollout of its national plan to deliver marijuana to customers will go smoothly – just don’t ask questions.
Boxing out the black market
Police leaders have long warned that governments need keep prices competitive if they want to rout organized crime from the cannabis industry. (If you’re planning to break up with your dealer, here’s an etiquette guide.)
The National Post spoke with black market insiders to track exactly how legalization will disrupt existing supply chains for illicit weed. This week, the Ontario government appeared to have finally figured out the best way to eradicate illegal dispensaries. But some dispensaries across Canada are planning to stay open in protest, as the Financial Post’s Vanmala Subramaniam reports.
The headaches of high driving
The federal government approved the Draeger DrugTest 5000, a roadside saliva test that detects whether a motorist is impaired by cannabis. But, as the National Post reported last month, most major Canadian police forces were still figuring out whether or not to order them. Meantime, police forces are planning to keep it “business as usual” with sobriety field tests. Police are also struggling to work out the logistics of getting blood samples from suspected drug-impaired drivers. And some police associations are offended by the strict policies implemented by forces like the Toronto Police and RCMP, that ban officers from smoking 28 days before a shift.
Risks and rewards: What the doctors say
Do you believe your dog is high? Here’s how to tell. As for humans, here’s how pot affects your body and mind – from “sustained hilarity” to “brain noise.” Oh, and here’s a study on how even infrequent pot use can impair a teenager’s capacity to learn.
Who’s getting rich
Day One of legalization is when the real winners and losers will start to emerge. But the lead up has already seen waves of investor manias and a group of pot companies emerge as major players. Faced with Health Canada restrictions, pot companies have been getting creative in their efforts to make their brands stand out.
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