TVNZ One News 11 October 2018
Canada is legalising adult use of marijuana on Oct. 17 and will be the second and largest country to do so. The federal government established the broad outline of the legalisation law but left it up to provinces and territories to fill in some of the details – such as whether to allow home grows, to establish a legal purchase age of 18 or 19, and whether to sell through government-run pot shops or private outlets.
Here’s a look at how the industry will look, as well as some key differences between Canada’s approach and that of the nine U.S. states that have legalized so-called recreational marijuana:
Canada’s Cannabis Act allows people 18 and older to buy marijuana online or in retail stores. Most provinces have raised the minimum age to 19, however, to align with the drinking age. In the US, states with recreational legalisation have an age limit of 21, which matches the drinking age.
Canadian law sets a 30-gram limit on how much people can buy at once or possess in public. That’s just over an ounce, which is the possession limit in all but one of the US states with legal pot – Maine’s limit is 2.5 ounces (71 grams). However, there’s no limit on how much Canadians can possess in their homes.
The Canadian law also allows for residents to grow up to four plants at home, though two provinces – Quebec and Manitoba – opted to forbid home-growing. U.S. states including California, Nevada, Alaska and Colorado allow home-growing of up to six plants.
Unlike in the US, where many types of products are available, Canada is for now allowing sales of only dried cannabis flower, tinctures, capsules and seeds. Marijuana-infused foods and concentrates are expected to be available in about a year.
Residents across Canada will be able to buy marijuana online, through websites run by each province – a handy resource for cannabis users in any cities that might decide to ban pot shops. Most provinces will have at least some stores open next Wednesday, ranging from 20 in New Brunswick to a single store in British Columbia. Hundreds more are expected to open nationwide over the next year.
Federal taxes will total $1 per gram or 10 percent, whichever is more. The feds will keep one-quarter of that and return the rest to the provinces, which can add their own markups. Consumers also will pay local sales taxes.
A key difference between the Canadian and American models is government involvement. The main federal effort in the U.S. is to enforce drug laws that still treat marijuana as a controlled substance.
In Canada, the federal government regulates producers. Canada so far has licensed some 120 growers.
The provinces are tasked with overseeing distribution. Some will buy wholesale marijuana and deliver it to retail stores and, through the federal postal service, to online customers. The government involvement in distribution could help control prices, keeping them at a level that is competitive with the black market without allowing overproduction to threaten the viability of licensed producers, experts say.
In some US states, especially Oregon, an oversupply of legal pot has raised concerns about product being diverted to other states.