Canada’s New Legalization Timeline


Jason Mueller

March 7th, 2018

Policy


The legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada could open the door to a C$22.6 billion market, according to Deloitte analysts, but the nationwide rollout has been consistently delayed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on record saying that cannabis would be legal by July 7th, but according to the AP on Feb 15th, 2018, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has admitted that legalization won’t be ready until August or even September. She has repeatedly voiced concerns that provinces and territories of Canada will need time to implement their own laws and recreational cannabis sales infrastructure.

Current estimates stand at eight to twelve weeks beyond the process of bureaucracy in order for C-45 and C-46 to become law in Canada, but certain hurdles must be crossed before any cannabis can be legally sold.

Provincial Implementation

Provinces and territories will have the opportunity to control the way they wish to implement the legalization of recreational cannabis.

The Federal government has set the age and the permissions on carry weight, home grows and more, but provinces and territories will be able to establish their own models for recreational shops – whether it be licensure or state-run facilities is up to the given territory or province.

Though the Health Minister has expectations of an eight to twelve week implementation timeline, that estimate may be rather hopeful considering the first harvest of cannabis grown for recreational sale will take at least eight weeks to grow if they’re subject to different standards than medical harvests.

One month to have brick-and-mortar shops, quality control, packaging, etc. in place after that is a tight cut off but the future will tell whether this delay will roll over into another.

Potential Political Hurdles

While the Prime Minister calls the shots and has the public support in a clear majority, the Tory party is still demanding more research on the effects of recreational legalization and they widely consider the original pushback to June to July, (a June deadline was originally proposed by a liberal in the Senate named Peter Harder) as a victory. They are certain to embrace any future setbacks on the deadline of legalization of cannabis.

Law Enforcement Concerns

Canada’s law enforcement agencies have been vocal against legalization as well. Not only did they ask for more time before the implementation of cannabis legalization, they also specifically requested that the government “rethink” their position on allowing home grows.

Despite patients having the legal right to grow cannabis for years, some in Canada’s law enforcement community believe that widespread home grow operations could lead to an increase in associated drug crime.

Though all this news comes off a bit grim for Canadians hoping to celebrate Canada Day with their first legal toke, the reality of cannabis legalization in Canada is still very positive. Deadlines are being set, the PM is holding fast to his commitment to the issue, and even the dissent among Tories and police cannot stem the tide of popular support for legalization across the country.

Though August or September have been mentioned by the Health Minister, don’t be surprised if actual implementation takes longer still.  What will be important is that along the way, checkpoints are being crossed and the bills take solid steps closer to law without any hiccups.

Rest assured that by next Canada Day, cannabis will be legal in the country and in all likelihood, it will come much sooner than that.

Jason Mueller

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