Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ran his campaign on liberal promises, and it seems he intends to keep them, which is a breath of fresh air if you live in the United States. Trudeau promised Canada would be the first country to legalize recreational and medical cannabis, and the country is well on its way. In Canada, there have been reports that there is not enough marijuana to go around; people want and are lining up in record numbers for more as Trudeau’s administration works hard to get new policies and regulations in place for recreational cannabis. To understand the shortage and the current marijuana situation in Canada, we have to take a look back at Canada’s established marijuana laws, those they intend to enforce in the future, and why there is a shortage of marijuana for the northern country.
Canada’s Current Marijuana Laws
Marijuana or cannabis is a Schedule II drug under Canada’s Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA), and is only legal right now for medical reasons. The CDSA includes cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabidiol, cannabinol, and tetrahydrocannabinol, but does not include non-viable cannabis seed (except its derivatives), cannabis stalks or fibers without leaves, flowers, seeds, or branches, or synthetic cannabinoids (Nabilone, Parahexyl). Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada for fifteen years, according to Health Canada, and was made legally available to more medical patients in 2015. All dispensaries or compassion clubs supplying Canadian citizens with marijuana in Canada now are illegal; meaning the marijuana they sell is unregulated and untested. Currently, the only cultivators that should be selling marijuana to patients or citizens in Canada are the 32 authorized government cultivators approved by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), such as Aphria, Bedrocan, MariCann, Tweed, and United Greeneries. Ontario contains 23 different cultivators alone. Once you register with Health Canada as a medical marijuana patient, you can get mail-ordered cannabis shipped to your residence – there are over 60,000 registered patients right now, but more are registering every day. If you don’t have a medical license and are caught in possession of under 31 grams of cannabis, a possible fine of $1,000 and six months in jail could result. About one-third of all drug offenses in Canada actually result in charges, though.
Canada’s Future Marijuana Laws
Canada’s populace voted in Trudeau a few years back, based on a platform that included recreational legalization of marijuana for the entire country, and now Trudeau is trying to make good on his promise. In December, Trudeau appointed the Canadian Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation to the monumental task of researching and creating the new cannabis regulatory framework for Canada, and decided that Canadians must be 18 years or older to consume, possess, or cultivate cannabis in most instances; cannot grow more than 4 plants at home; advertising will be restricted like tobacco advertising and only directed at adults; packaging must be descriptive and plain; and therapeutic claims must be accurate. The Task Force was particularly concerned with avoiding marketing and availability to children, and creating cannabis research and monitoring programs.
Why Can’t People Get Enough Marijuana in Canada?
The answer, of course, is that there aren’t enough legal marijuana cultivators in Canada to meet the high demand of the 60,000 plus medical marijuana patients, much less the patients who continue to register every day – and what about when recreational marijuana is legalized and all Canadian resident adults over the age of 18 can just walk into a dispensary and buy the amount that they want? The demand in Canada is about to skyrocket, and Canadian stocks are going through the roof as people rush to invest in the next North American Green Rush. (You can even buy stock in your very own MassRoots through Cannabis Stock Picks!) Although as I understand it, there are all sorts of illegal dispensaries selling recreational weed in Toronto, it is considered illegal to do so by the government, who was still raiding these dispensaries last year. It’s unclear what the procedure will be while the new regulations are put in place, but for now know that buying rec marijuana in Canada may carry a penalty or even jail time. I’ll keep you posted as Canada establishes and integrates its medical and recreational marijuana systems, so come back and check for more info.