Canada has allowed the medical use of dried marijuana leaves since 2001, when it passed the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, or MMAR. However, talks about legalizing marijuana for recreational use have been put in the back burner for 14 years. It was only in 2015 that Canada started talking about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, particularly after the Liberal party won the elections in October of that year.
It started when no less than Justin Trudeau talked about legalizing marijuana when he was elected prime minister. Trudeau has been vocal about his support of legal recreational marijuana use since he became the Liberal party’s leader in 2013. After that, things unfolded fast. By June 2016, there was already a taskforce moving to make recreational use of cannabis legal.
The taskforce came up with its own set of recommendations in December 2016. By April 2017, the world woke up to Canada introducing the Cannabis Act, which would make recreational marijuana legal by July 2018.
What to expect
The law would make Canada the first industrialized nation to make marijuana legal for everyone. However, the reform does have some restrictions.
Let us look at how Ontario plans to implement legal marijuana laws by looking at Ontario’s Safe and Sensible Framework to Federal Cannabis Legislation. This document outlines the provisions on how marijuana is to be sold in Ontario.
For one, you need to be 19 years old or older to buy marijuana. If you are 18, you cannot have marijuana in your possession. There might be other provinces, however, that would allow 18-year-olds to either buy or possess marijuana.
All marijuana and marijuana-related products should be bought from a retailer controlled by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The good news is that there are around 80 LCBO-controlled stores in the province. You can also buy online, but only if you have it delivered right to your doorstep.
One other thing is that you cannot buy alcohol with marijuana together in one LCBO-controlled store. This means that you may have to go to the next LCBO store if you want to buy beer as well. The document also states that you cannot buy marijuana edibles, so forget about trying to find stores that sell happy brownies or cannabis-laced candies. But if you are one of those who prefer eating their high, you can certainly bake a batch of brownies yourself.
Furthermore, you cannot smoke, eat, or do anything with marijuana in public. You need to be home, or inside a private residence to partake weed. You are also not allowed to enjoy marijuana at the office or inside your car.
The problem with Canada’s move to legalize recreational weed is that the government has left it to individual provinces to come up with their own rules and guidelines. So the possibility of having a coffeeshop selling marijuana-based products is pretty high in one province, but zero in another.
Concerns with the banking system
The United States experienced some growing pains when it comes to marijuana-related businesses and their bank accounts. Canada is no stranger to this. In 2016, several of these businesses had their Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank accounts closed. Even those businesses who do not directly sell marijuana or marijuana-based products were affected, such as those selling bongs and pipes. According to a report from TheStar.com, the RBC and Scotiabank declared that they will not be handling companies that are closely identified to marijuana.
Some companies affected by this decision dealt only with medical marijuana, which is totally legal in the country. That being said, there is no guarantee that marijuana-related businesses would not have problems with their banks, even when recreational marijuana does become legal.