Canada legalises recreational marijuana


It's official. The first legal recreational cannabis has been sold in Newfoundland and Labrador, marking a historic first across the country.

In a report from the Toronto Star's Ottawa Bureau Bruce Campion-Smith writes that the federal government will announce Wednesday that it intends to "move quickly to grant pardons to Canadians with past criminal convictions for simple possession of pot under 30 grams".

According to accounting firm Deloitte, legal marijuana is expected to become more than a $6bn (£3.5bn) business in Canada in 2019, with up to $4.34bn (£2.5bn) coming from the legal recreational market and as much as $1.79bn (£1.04) from medical sales. The goal is to better reflect society's changing opinion about marijuana and bring black market operators into a regulated system.

Canada is only the second nation after Uruguay to legalise the drug, although countries such as Portugal have decriminalised it - meaning those caught with the drug face civil punishment, such as a fine.

"I am living my dream".

Online cannabis customers will have to pay a $10 shipping fee, and any buyers who appear to be under 25 years old will be asked to prove they're of legal age when the drugs are delivered by Canada Post. He wrote in his high school yearbook that his dream was to open a cafe in Amsterdam, the Dutch city where people have legally smoked weed in coffee shops since the 1970s. The most populous province is working on its regulations and does not expect any stores to open until next spring.

Under the new law, Canadians can also order marijuana through the mail.

In most of the country, the legal age will be 18 or 19, the same as for alcohol, but Quebec has promised to boost the cannabis consumption age to 21.

"We're not legalising cannabis because we think it's good for our health".

A patchwork of regulations has spread in Canada as each province takes its own approach within the framework set out by the federal government.

As of Tuesday the drug was still illegal, and officials at the media briefing said any charges or cases before the courts could still be prosecuted after legalization.

But critics say it will lead to an increase in deaths on Canada's roads.

As Canada welcomes legalization, supply shortages could develop, as happened in some USA states when legalization arrived.

"It's been hectic", said Roseanne Dampier, who joined her husband - both former welders - in opening Alternative Greens, a licensed store in Edmonton, Alberta.

The supply of recreational marijuana could be limited at least early on in some stores. "You got to sell $250,000 worth of product in order to make $20,000".

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