Canada is now set to join the first group of seven countries and be the second nation in the world to legalize the use of marijuana for adults nationally after Uruguay. The two legislative chambers of Canada approved the Cannabis Act that seeks to legalize recreational marijuana in the country. With the new law that is expected to officially become law in 17th October this year, Canadian provinces will be allowed to regulate and control growing, distribution and selling of marijuana. The sales of marijuana are likely to begin by the end of the summer, as many people are ready with licenses waiting for the new law to come into effect.
Moreover, the Cannabis Act features a buffer period of up to 8 to 12 weeks that will allow all the provinces to set up all the systems necessary for the sale of recreational marijuana. As mentioned earlier, Justin Trudeau (the Prime Minister) and his cabinet have already set the date that the law will go into effect, which happens to be this October. Legalization of cannabis formed the significant part of Trudeau’s campaign, before introducing the legalization legislation in 2017.
On his Twitter, the Prime Minister celebrated the approval of the Cannabis Act by saying “It has been too easy for criminals to make profits while making it easy for our kids to get marijuana. But, today that will change because the Senate has approved our plan to legalize and regulate it.”
The Cannabis Act will allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home while anyone above 18 will also be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana. Besides, each province will be allowed to put up a system to regulate and license, although the new law focuses on establishing a national framework to control and monitor the operations of the cannabis market.
Existing Rules on Cannabis in Canada
One of the current rules on Cannabis is the legalization of medical marijuana, which was passed in 2001. The law made it legal for Canadians to use medical marijuana, though it required patients to grow their plant or assign another individual to grow it for them. However, a legal challenge in 2003 led to the extension of the law to create a broader system of producers licensed by the federal government.
The law was challenged three years later on the grounds that it led to increased costs and limited the access of medical marijuana unreasonably. Nevertheless, the 2016 ruling did not explicitly legalize dispensaries, but it promoted the idea that such market could operate as long as marijuana was strictly used for medical reasons. After the ruling, all sorts of the gray market have since sprouted up in various cities in Canada, with many operators of dispensaries growing increasingly comfortable as the date of the new law on legalization approaches.
The Negatives of the New Regulations
Recreational marijuana is soon set to be officially legal in Canada this October, but we cannot afford to ignore some of the concerns that the new law has failed to address. The new regulations released by Health Canada do not provide a definite limit on how much THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that these products should contain. Therefore, it is highly likely that most of the products will contain high amounts of this psychoactive component, which is known to cause undesirable effects.
According to government officials who were speaking on the regulations on production and marketing of these products, the new law will not put a cap on the potency or place a limit on them. The new rules, which were published officially on July 11 prevents one from adding THC to a dried product and placing limits on the net weight. However, the regulations do not allow anyone to put a cap on the potency of these cannabis products.
The official further clarified that the lack of limits on the levels of THC and potency levels fits in the government’s objective of the passed bill. One official said, “There is a variety of cannabis, and some have high THC levels. But this is consistent with the existing medical regulations. Therefore, there is no strict cap on dried cannabis potency.”
“This is an effective approach to allow us to move to a diverse and regulated marketplace that can absorb businesses in illegal marketplace, which is one of the objectives of the government.”
However, the new regulations include hard potency rules for other cannabis products. For instance, the law provides that maximum yield THC content in cannabis products meant to be “administered orally, topically, vaginally or rectally” must not exceed 10 milligrams. It will also ban cannabis products intended for human eye usage. Besides, people will be required to get federal licenses to cultivate and process recreational marijuana, but the government will not allow them to process it until the law comes into effect.
Moreover, the officials also insist that there will be no shortage when legalization is effected as there is enough legal cannabis to meet the demand. As mentioned above, some of the provinces will have the responsibility of determining how the sale of recreational marijuana operates, including Quebec, Ontario and larger parts of Atlanta Canada. On the other hand, the private sector will shoulder greater responsibility in determining how recreational marijuana is sold in the other places.
Under the new regulations, the assessment of license applications will be done on merit. Fortunately, the records of previous offenses that are related to drugs, which include trafficking, will not disqualify an applicant automatically. So the industry will be open to most Canadians as a person’s background will not necessarily be an impediment. It is also important to remember that Health Canada unveiled its regulation and packaging proposals in March, this year.
However, according to the regulations that were released later, cannabis products will be sold in plain packaging with branding, colors and most importantly strict guidelines on logos. The packaging must also include health warnings. Besides, the packaging would also have to indicate the amount of primary active compounds (CBD and THC) in a particular product.
How will the Government Regulate Micro Growers?
The new law on legalization of recreational marijuana also outlines how the federal government will limit micro cultivators and processors. According to the regulations, a micro cultivator, which refers to any person growing cannabis on a small scale, will be limited to own not more than 200 square meters of plant canopy area.
Moreover, the new rules will also impose regulations on the state and security of the place where growers’ shop can be set up. For instance, a farmer cannot grow or harvest these plants close to a daycare facility, public playground, school, as well as any other public place frequented by individuals with less than 18 years of age.
Why the New Regulations may trigger cannabis revolution in Canada
Canadians are already enjoying the options that come with micro-licensing even though the legalization will be delayed until 17th of October 2018, which has created a new wave of legalization. The micro-licenses will enable smaller cultivators and processors to adapt to the demands of the local consumer easily making them revolutionary for the cannabis industry. Moreover, these licenses will help in regulating the illegal markets framework, thus opening global markets.
According to the announcement by Health Canada, licenses will be available in multiple classes including standard and micro for processors and producers, industrial hemp, nurseries, analytical testing, and research as well as medical sales licenses. Health Canada has also announced that application guide and regulations of applying for new licenses are currently available on request but will soon be made public online. Fortunately, the new law does not limit the number of licenses that an individual can possess, which creates a room for cannabis businesses with diverse, decentralized distribution systems. Most notably, producers who had permits before will face very few changes in the transition as the new rules come with few additional regulations.
As mentioned above, Health Canada also announced that it would not discriminate against individuals with previous records of non-violent convictions related to marijuana. “In the past people with criminal records related to any controlled substance could be automatically rejected by Health Canada,” said Mathew Columbro, (a cannabis compliance consultant who is also the president of Vindica Canada Corporation). “To screen out pre-application of organized crime, security clearances will be analyzed on the basis of case-by-case.”
The new regulations on industrial hemp allow the sale of cannabis to processors who extract CBD and have also made outdoor cultivation legal. However, the new rules remain strict on advertisements for recreational marijuana, but most licensed producers seem to go against this restriction, by conducting events sponsorships and endorsements despite the outright ban on them. Health Canada had initially banned the promotion of marijuana using recreation or luxury, and now the ban includes a complete ban on advertising to the public. Consequently, the outright prohibition has seen many licensed producers being reprimanded for putting up websites for recreational brands that are set to be launched after the new law comes into effect.
Finally, unlike the expectations of many Canadians, the new federal law on recreational marijuana was crafted to allow those in the black market to register in the legal recreational marijuana market. The country is now allowing genetics in the black market to transit into the new program by acquiring micro-producer licenses just like in Jamaica. A micro-producer license will enable producers to own a maximum of 1250 square meters, sell seeds to nurseries, and bring phenotype genetics to the global market.
In conclusion, the legalization of marijuana has lifted a huge barrier that was limiting licensed producers, taking the Canadian cannabis industry to the golden age. The new development is not monumental for growers in Canada alone, but it is also a great thing to the world as many countries, including the U.K have now approved the use of medical marijuana. Canadian licensed dealers and licensed producers are allowed to export or import cannabis for scientific and medical marijuana. However, the exportation of cannabis is not allowed since the substance is prohibited in the U.S.
Canada Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Use: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/canada-legalizes-recreational-marijuana-use-665948/
Everything you need to now about recreational marijuana legalization: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/06/canada-cannabis-legalization-questions-answered
Ottawa isn’t putting a cap on the potency of many cannabis products: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pot-regulations-health-canada-1.4724699
New legalization may spark Canada’s craft cannabis revolution: https://www.straight.com/cannabis/1097161/new-regulations-may-spark-canadas-craft-cannabis-revolution
Marijuana to be legal in Canada starting October, Trudeau confirms: https://globalnews.ca/news/4285946/marijuana-legal-date-october-17-canada-trudeau-confirms/