Cannabis in Canada
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|Cannabis in Canada|
A variation of the Canadian flag with a cannabis leaf in the centre instead of a maple leaf.
|Provincial and territorial regulations|
Cannabis in Canada is legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Medicinal use of cannabis was legalized nationwide on 30 July 2001 under conditions outlined in the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, later superseded by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, issued by Health Canada and seed, grain, and fibre production was permitted under licence by Health Canada. The federal Cannabis Act came into effect on 17 October 2018 and made Canada the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to formally legalize the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis and its by-products. Canada is the first G7 and G20 nation to do so.
Cannabis was banned in Canada from 1923 until regulated medical cannabis became legal on 30 July 2001. In response to popular opinion, the legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use (Cannabis Act, Bill C-45) was passed by the House of Commons of Canada on 27 November 2017; it passed second reading in the Senate of Canada on 22 March 2018. On 18 June 2018, the House passed the bill with most, but not all, of the Senate's amendments. The Senate accepted this version of the Act the following day.
The federal government announced that recreational use of cannabis would no longer violate criminal law as of 17 October 2018. This legalization comes with regulation similar to that of alcohol in Canada, limiting home production, distribution, consumption areas and sale times. The process removed cannabis possession for personal consumption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; while implementing taxation and strengthen punishment of those convicted of either supplying cannabis to minors, or of impairment while driving a motor vehicle.
As of January 2019, on-line sales of cannabis for recreational use were well underway across Canada, via the provincial or territorial governments. Most provinces also had storefront operations selling cannabis, either operated by the government or private enterprise. The number of retailers is likely to remain limited, largely due to insufficient supply of legal cannabis from licensed producers.
Drug prohibition in Canada began with the Opium Act of 1908. Historians often point to the 1922 publication of Emily Murphy's The Black Candle as the catalyst for the addition of the three extra drugs to a list of prohibited substances. Murphy's anti-drug screeds were widely read and helped spread the drug panic across the country, historian Catharine Carstairs disputes that the seven-page chapter, "Marahuana -- a new menace" inspired the inclusion of cannabis as a restricted substance.
Cannabis was made illegal when it was added to the country's Confidential Restricted List in 1923 under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill after a vague reference to a "new drug" during a late night session of the House of Commons on 23 April 1923. According to one government official, cannabis was outlawed after the Director of the Federal Division of Narcotic Control returned from League of Nations meetings where the international control of cannabis was broached.:49 Cannabis did not begin to attract official attention in Canada until the later 1930s, and even then it was minimal.:51 The first seizure of cannabis by Canadian police was not made until 1937.:48 Commercial cultivation of industrial hemp was forbidden in 1938. Between 1946 and 1961, cannabis accounted for only 2% of all drug arrests in Canada.:112
In the 1960s, cannabis arrests began to increase rapidly in Canada. For the entire period of 1930–1946, the RCMP recorded only 25 cannabis arrests, but this rose to 2,300 cases in 1968, and to 12,000 cases in 1972. In response to the increased popularization of marijuana and the increase in criminal charges against middle class citizens, the government formed the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, usually referred to as the Le Dain Commission, in 1969 to investigate non-medical cannabis use in Canada. The commission's 1972 report recommended removing criminal penalties for cannabis possession, though not legalization, per se. While the subsequent two federal governments discussed the recommendation, no steps were actually taken to change legislation.
In 2001, the country started a medical marijuana program, managed by Health Canada. The program originally offered people access to home grown cannabis or sales directly from Health Canada. This was replaced with new regulations that set up a more traditional commercial sector for cannabis cultivation and distribution in 2013.
Steps to legalization
After he was elected Prime Minister in 2015, the first significant step that Justin Trudeau took was the creation of a federal-provincial-territorial task force to discuss a jointly suitable process for the legalization of cannabis possession for casual use. This Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation released a 106-page report to the public on 13 December 2016, with various recommendations. Those were provided for consideration by the federal and provincial governments, but they were not binding. Sales for recreational use were not to commence until 1 July 2018, at the earliest, based on legislation (Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act) passed by the federal government in June 2018.
The substance remains controlled: sold only at government licensed retailers, and grown only by licensed producers. During the federal election campaign, the Liberals had promised "new, stronger laws" against sales to minors, driving while impaired, and sales through channels not specifically authorized to do so.
Until 17 October 2018, cannabis remained illegal (except with a physician's prescription, for medical purposes), as Trudeau reminded police forces across the country in late 2016. He insisted that they "enforce the law": criminally charge illegal storefront dispensaries. Trudeau also explained that the intent of the legislation is not to encourage recreational use of cannabis. The intent is "to better protect our kids from the easy access they have right now to marijuana [and] to remove the criminal elements that were profiting from marijuana", he told the Toronto Star on 2 December 2016.
Police forces took the Prime Minister seriously, and in March 2017, raided five locations of the Cannabis Culture retailer in Toronto, one in Vancouver, and another in Hamilton, Ontario. They also searched homes in Toronto, Stoney Creek, and Vancouver. Multiple charges were laid against Marc Emery and Jodie Emery, owners of Cannabis Culture, a company that franchised pot dispensary shops. The couple was convicted in December 2017 of drug-related charges, including possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking; fined; and placed on two years of probation. Drug-related charges were laid against three others who were also subsequently convicted.
First Nations chiefs attending the Assembly of First Nations widely agreed that the distribution of cannabis on reserve lands should be governed by First Nations governments, and not provincial legislation.
Immediately after legalization, licensed growers often had difficulty accessing financial services. Alterna Savings and Alterna Bank were among the first financial institutions to make loans to businesses focusing on cannabis in Canada, providing primary banking services for approximately two-thirds of the hundred licensed growers in 2018.
After the House of Commons passed Bill C-45, it was sent to the Senate. On 1 June 2018, the Senate passed an amendment to C-45 outlawing cannabis "brand-stretching". The amendment, which passed 34–28 in the Senate, would have outlawed the sale and display of cannabis-related merchandise once legalized. The amendment was rejected by the House of Commons.
On 19 June 2018, the Senate finally passed the bill, without the rejected amendment, and the Prime Minister announced the effective legalization date as 17 October 2018. Canada became the second nation (after Uruguay) to legalize the drug.
As expected, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes became legal across the country on 17 October 2018, under the Cannabis Act which "creates a legal and regulatory framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada", according to a Government of Canada web site. Persons aged 18 or older can possess up to 30 grams of dried or "equivalent non-dried form" in public. Adults are also allowed to make cannabis-infused food and drinks "as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products". Each household is allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants from "licensed seed or seedlings", although Quebec and Manitoba chose to be excluded from this aspect of the legislation.
Each province set its own procedures for retail sales, and these vary as to ownership or retail outlets (by the provincial government or private enterprise), but all include an option for on-line sales. Since marijuana is illegal in the U.S. per federal legislation, the government warned that "previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S." Canadians travelling within the country (but not internationally) are allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis. Naturally, driving under the influence of drugs remained illegal. It was announced that on 1 May 2019, Canada would introduce excise tax on all products containing THC, and introduce three new product classes for recreational sale: cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals.
As of August 2019, the federal government still prohibited the sale of edibles, such as cookies. Such products were expected to become legal in October 2019, but with restrictions. The intent was to not allow any products that would be "appealing to young persons", probably including the colourful "gummies" candy which was very popular on the black market.
Public opinion, 1997–2016
Since 1997, public opinion polls have found an increasing majority of Canadians agree with the statement, "Smoking marijuana should not be a criminal offence". A June 2016 national poll conducted by Nanos Research showed that 7 in 10 Canadians were in favour of legalization.
By 2006, a high percentage of the population was using cannabis, in spite of the risk of police charges for possession, and especially for selling it without the required licence, according to statistics gathered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Nearly half (44%) of Canadians admit to trying it at least once; no statistics were provided as to the percentage who use it frequently. The CAMH report also indicates that by the last year of high school, nearly half (46%) of Ontario students admit to having used marijuana in the past year. The CAMH discussion includes warnings about the negative effects of cannabis. Other groups also warn about the risk, including the Canadian Automobile Association whose 2016 poll indicated, "Almost two-thirds of Canadians are concerned that roads will become more dangerous [due to impairment by the drug] with the legalization of marijuana". An October 2016 national poll by Forum suggests that about five million adult Canadians now use cannabis at least once a month; this is expected to increase by 19 percent after marijuana is legalized. Canaccord Genuity analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka released a research note with a more moderate estimate of the number of users. They predicted that approximately 3.8 million persons will be recreational users (presumably on a frequent basis) by 2021. A report by Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is more bullish, estimating that by 2021 some 5.2 million adults may be users.
Cannabis as a commodity
Growers that currently produce marijuana are licensed by Health Canada under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). As of late 2016, there were 36 authorized producers across the country in Health Canada's list. Sales were allowed only by mail order, but by late 2017, some major retailers had applied for a change in the rules to allow them to also sell the product. By 21 December 2017, 82 licences had been issued under the ACMPR, but not all of the producers had been licensed to begin selling medical marijuana. The vast majority of these companies were located in Ontario. At that time, no licences had been issued yet for producing recreational cannabis; the producers already licensed were hoping to be added to that list after it is created. Between 1 February and early April 2018, some 89 additional applicants were approved as cannabis growers by Health Canada; at the time, the agency was considering the merits of another 244 applications.
Statistics indicate that, as of September 2016, nearly 100,000 Canadians had bought medical marijuana legally, a significant increase over the 30,537 in September 2015, presumably since it is becoming a mainstream drug and since supplies are becoming more readily available. According to a StatsCan estimate, Canadians may have spent roughly CAD$6.2 billion (US$4.8 billion) on marijuana in 2015, although the agency admits that there is no scientific method of accurately measuring illegal consumption.
The report by the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation had recommended that recreational cannabis growers should be licensed at a federal level, separately from the producers of medical marijuana. The expert panel also recommended that the process ensure competition by licensing both large and small producers. While licensing should be federal, each of the provinces should be allowed to determine how and where the product will be sold.
After the plans for legalization became well-publicized, industry analysts reported that some of the producers who had been licensed for medical marijuana, including Aurora Cannabis, were already increasing the capacity of their operations for future sales to the distributors of recreational cannabis.
A report in late November 2017 by Ernst & Young suggested that there would be mergers, leaving fewer players in this industry. "Many believe that consolidation is inevitable, leaving a few large players post-legalization." Also in late 2017, Deloitte predicted that the recreational cannabis market would be worth close to $23 billion. Lately, US Alcohol companies have been showing interest in the Cannabis business in Canada. US Cannabis producers are afraid that Canada is going to be the prime dominator in the market.
On 17 October 2019, alternative cannabis products such as drinks, edibles, and topicals will become legal for production, and are expected to be available for sale two months later. Deloitte has predicted that the alternative cannabis product market will be worth close to $2.7 billion.
Due to illegality of cannabis federally in the United States, crossing the international border from Canada into the United States while carrying cannabis is still illegal. Past consumption of cannabis can also lead to a permanent ban on entry to the U.S.
Major producers (2018)
As of late October 2018, the largest of the producers licensed by the federal government was Canopy Growth Corporation of Smiths Falls, Ontario; the company was renamed from Tweed Marijuana Inc. in September 2015 after it purchased competitor Bedrocan. Subsequent acquisitions for this corporation included Vert Medical, the German cannabis distributor MedCann, and a majority interest in Quebec's Groupe H.E.M.P.CA Inc. In early December 2016, Canopy announced a friendly takeover bid of another Canadian producer, Mettrum Health (CVE:MT), in anticipation of an expanding market after marijuana is legalized for recreational purposes in 2017. In addition to sales in the domestic market, Canopy Growth began selling medical cannabis products in Germany and Brazil in 2016. The company was described as "one of the world's – and Canada's first – premier exporters of marijuana" by the Financial Post.
Canopy Growth's patient base increased by approximately 260 percent and revenue by about 180 percent in the calendar year 2016 vs. 2015. The increase would have been even greater, but the company had difficulty maintaining adequate stock in some high-demand categories such as mid-to-high THC level products and oils. A report by the Financial Post indicated that inventory shortfalls have been a problem for many of Canada's licensed medical marijuana producers; this could worsen after recreational marijuana is legalized. When the year end report was released, Canopy Growth's share price fell seven percent to $12.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ticker WEED). The December 2016 year end report indicated a profit for the first time in the company's history (3 million in net income). Previously, Canopy Growth had been operating at a loss ($3.3 million in 2015, for example), partly because it was using funds to acquire competitors in preparation for significantly increased cannabis demand by the recreational use market expected to commence in early 2018. In early December 2016, Reuters' survey of four market analysts had indicated a consensus rating of Buy in early December 2016.
In August 2018, Constellation Brands announced that it would invest an additional US$4 billion in Canopy Growth Corporation in advance of the legalization of recreational marijuana. The investment will increase its share in the company from 9.9% to 38%. Canopy Growth president Bruce Linton said the additional funds would be used for international expansion and that future marketing plans included products such as cannabis-infused beverages and sleep aids. After the Constellation deal was announced, the market value of Canopy Growth rose to nearly US$12 billion, roughly $3.7 billion greater than that of the closest competitor Aurora Cannabis.
Earlier in 2018, the second largest producer, Aurora Cannabis, bought competitor CanniMed in advance of the anticipated growth in the market and announced a plan to acquire MedReleaf. It would have distribution agreements in a number of countries, including Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Australia.
By late September, Tilray, Inc. of Nanaimo, a subsidiary of Privateer Holdings had reached a market capitalization about US$10 billion making it the third largest cannabis company in the world, after Canopy and Aurora.
2019 sales volume
An October 2019 report stated that total cannabis sales for the first seven months of the year were only C$524 million when C$4.34 billion (US$3.29 billion) was forecast a year ago. Sales were modest because of the limited number of retail operations in Ontario and Quebec where some 23 million people resided; each province had only 25 outlets, as of October 2019. The relatively high cost of the legal product – almost double that of the black market – and the limited types of product (dried flower and oils) also worked against retail sales. In late 2019, more stores were being opened and a wider range of legal cannabis was becoming available, including edibles, topicals, and vaping products.
Profitability was a problem however, according to a report in early November 2019 which stated, "pot stocks down nearly 60 per cent since March highs". This was leading companies to sell off real estate holdings as a method of raising capital to finance expansion. 
Competing with the black market
A report in October 2019 by Bloomberg News painted a bleak picture of the legal cannabis industry. Because of the relatively few retail outlets, especially in Ontario, and the high retail prices, the black market remained persistent. An independent cannabis research firm estimated that the black market accounted for 86% of cannabis sales. On average, on a Canada-wide basis, legal cannabis was selling for about $10.23 per gram versus $5.59 found on the black market according to StatsCan.
Ontario, at least, planned to take steps in 2020 to increase the number of retail licenses issued per month to increase the availability of legal cannabis, in order to combat the illicit market.
Under the Cannabis Act passed in 2018, only producers licensed by the government are allowed to grow the product. As of early October 2018, there were at least 117 such licensed producers.
Although consolidation of the cannabis market in Canada is expected to the point where "a handful of companies will control the majority of the market", many claim that there is an important need for smaller craft cannabis producers that are "more able to adapt to consumer demand". The craft cannabis industry has been compared to the craft beer industry – smaller producers who are able to experiment more and provide a wider variety to the larger companies, which will likely try to please as many consumers as possible. However, the difference is that the relatively new rise of craft brewers in a mature market is different than craft cannabis starting at the same time as larger producers (for recreational cannabis). This will give larger producers the edge in the short term since those companies have more money.
The expected buy-in for craft cannabis producers is perhaps slightly higher than craft brewers, but there are other barriers to launching a craft cannabis company including the ability to market product. Cannabis marketing will be closer to tobacco marketing (which is prohibited in Canada with few limited exceptions) cannabis will be sold in plain packaging and traditional advertising such as TV commercials will be prohibited. They will likely not even be able to mention things that could be important to the consumer such as where it's grown (i.e., "buy local") and if it's organic.
Further, simply selling their product may be difficult. The supply chain is still not entirely clear as it is in the beer industry, but there are ways for craft cannabis producers to sell their product through selling to other micro-processors – and potentially larger producers – or applying for a micro-processing licence themselves. As of the legalization date, consumers cannot sample or purchase product directly from a craft cannabis producer's storefront as you can with craft beer or buy cannabis from a stall on the side of the road as you might from a farmer. However, British Columbia's Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth said that the province wouldn't rule out farmers selling direct to consumer.
Still, most craft cannabis producers are optimistic. One craft cannabis producer told The Globe and Mail that "I think there is a real opportunity there for small independents." Craft cannabis producers are seen by some as the "artisans of the industry" who will experiment with strains, increase variety, and produce a quality product that it can sell at a premium.
Stock market volatility
At times in 2016, and in 2017, the stock prices of some producers increased significantly as retail investors became more bullish on this segment of the market but then dropped at a later date. Between September and mid-November 2017, the typical stock cannabis producer's value increased by 54%, according to Vahan Ajamian of Beacon Securities Ltd. The share price of Canopy Growth, for example, more than doubled in price during the fall of the year, but declined in mid-November while others, such as Aurora Cannabis, increased at the same time during another volatile period. At the time, analysts could not predict the long-term outcome for any company. A report by Investopedia in November said that most cannabis stocks "can be labeled as penny stocks, so any investment may carry a significantly higher risk component."
Market analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka of Canaccord Genuity believe that approximately 3.8 million persons will be recreational users (presumably on a frequent basis) by 2021 with a potential for $6 billion in sales. These analysts predicted that after legalization, there may be a "shortfall of supply in the near term", which is likely to increase the product's selling price. Their prediction was based on the government's strict standards, which have resulted in few producers becoming licensed under the current system.
Some industry observers warned that "speculation and investor frenzy are fuelling many of the gains". Other observers pointed out that marijuana company values are high but said that "the players have real products with real sales that are growing, unlike the many dot-com firms that fed that bubble." Some market analysts voiced concern about the long-term retail price of recreational marijuana; they predict that it will decline over time after legalization because of competition and bulk sales to provincial governments. The probability of reducing prices as producers' costs decline due to economies of scale was confirmed by the head of the federal-provincial task force in late 2017. The government also intends to keep the net cost to the consumer adequately low so as to virtually eliminate the need for an illegal market but "not so low as to create an incentive for increased use".
Certain investment counsellors also warned clients that marijuana stocks are very risky. According to Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management in Toronto, "It's not the type of investment we'd ever make" adding that he would advise anyone who asks about investing in this sector, "don't do it". In spite of the significant increases in the stock prices of several cannabis producers in early November 2017, few institutional investors were buying such shares because of the uncertainty as to which would succeed and which would fail.
In November 2017, business columnist David Olive of the Toronto Star strongly recommended against investing in this industry. His rationale includes these aspects: there are too many producers for the small Canadian market ("close to 100 players"), retail prices will drop significantly, reducing margins, and the expense ratio is excessively high, so most companies will not be profitable. "Only the most risk-tolerant and speculative-minded investors should go anywhere near it," he warned.
The promise of legalization boosted the share price of marijuana growers on the Toronto Stock Exchange in November and December 2017. A market analyst explained that the confidence was based on the fact that legal marijuana will not be more expensive, with tax included, than the black market product; this should ensure a sizeable market for producers. Advertising will probably be used to boost sales. The federal task force had recommended that restrictions on ad content should be similar to those for tobacco ads, extremely stringent. The cannabis producers' lobby group, however, was proposing the gentler restrictions that apply to alcohol producers: not to appeal to youth and to promote only the brand, not the recreational use of the product.
As the stock markets approached the year-end closing in 2017, the price of major cannabis stocks surged but Bloomberg News reported that "some analysts are skeptical about demand projections, and betting against the stocks is difficult to do" because there was "almost no stock left to short, and some investors who have taken short positions in the market have lost money", quoting Ihor Dusaniwsky of S3 Partners (investment analysts) in New York. The BCMI Cannabis Report warned that the boom could "end badly", with the bubble bursting as other industries' "manias" had burst in the past.
Developments in 2018 and 2019
On 4 January 2018, a plunge in prices was being reported by Bloomberg. An update by Forbes in mid-July 2018 indicated that year to date, the Canadian Marijuana (stock) Index had declined by 19.1%, but had gained 132% over the previous year.
In August 2018, Constellation Brands (a beer, wine and spirits producer) announced that it would invest an additional C$5 billion (US$3.8 billion) in Canopy Growth. After the Constellation deal, the market value of Canopy Growth rose to US$11 billion.
On 20 September 2018, Tilray Inc. (TLRY:US on NASDAQ) of Nanaimo, a subsidiary or Privateer Holdings, became the world's largest cannabis company in terms of market capitalisation, after a 77% increase in its stock price. However, the share price dropped significantly over the next few days, reducing Tilray's market capitalisation to about US$10 billion compared to the earlier $19+ billion value.
2019 has been an extremely disappointing year for investors in cannabis stocks, with the overall market, as measured by the New Cannabis Ventures Global Cannabis Stock Index down 20% after a 55% decline in 2018. The market, which has declined over 71% since early 2018, has moved to three-year lows. The current environment is challenging, as funding has dried up ... Many companies won’t make it or will have to raise capital on extremely unfavorable terms..."
Excise tax and sales tax
From the early planning stages, the government indicated that the substance would be taxed. An estimate in late 2016 suggested revenues of $618 million per year from a federal tax initially, and eventually, billions, according to a report by Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). (A recent government estimate indicates that the illegal marijuana industry is worth $7 billion per year.) The Task Force report recommended that high-potency cannabis (with a high THC content) be taxed at a higher level than the conventional product to make it less attractive to consumers.
The federal government had announced in October 2017 that its budget would include $546 million over five years to prepare the "legal framework to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis" and another $150 million over six years to enforce the restrictions on drug-impaired driving. Health Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will receive a share of the funds. Of this amount, municipal and indigenous police services should receive $81 million to offset the increased cost of training and resources.
On 10 November 2017, the government announced that the federal excise tax, to be shared 50/50 with the provinces and territories, should not exceed $1 a gram or 10 per cent of the producer's price, whichever is higher. The government's press released did not specify higher tax on high-potency products. In December 2017, after demands from provinces for a higher percentage, a two-year agreement was signed to provide a full 75% of the tax; as well, the maximum to be taken by the federal government would be $100 million per annum, with any excess paid to the provinces and territories. The final retail price of the product will include provincial sales tax, ranging from 5% to 15% depending on the province. This arrangement will be discussed again in December 2018 to determine whether the five months of experience indicated that the 75/25 tax splitting scheme had proved to be appropriate.
Regulation by province
In Canada, regulation varies province to province, though there are some general rules regarding promotion, packaging, and advertising. Adult-use cannabis can only be sold in packages of a single colour without graphics other than the logo and a health warning. Cannabis companies in Canada will not be allowed to promote themselves through TV commercials, billboards, or glossy magazine ads, sponsor people or events, or put their names on sports and cultural facilities. To address these advertising challenges, some brands are connecting with popular media influencers like Gene Simmons and the Trailer Park Boys.
The Cannabis Act (2018) gave provinces the power to determine the method of distribution and sale and whether cannabis use will be legal inside private residence or homes if children are present in the home 12 or more hours in a day, and each will also establish the legal age for cannabis use. An excise tax will be levied, to be shared with the provinces and territories. According to the federal government, estimated annual sales will be $4 billion (US$3.2b).
The Cannabis Act (2018) also allows householders to grow up to four cannabis plants, but Quebec and Manitoba announced that they would not permit this option. New Brunswick is specifying indoor growing only in a separate locked space, but will also allow outdoor growing for plants that are up to 1.52m (5 feet) high.
Most provinces have set the minimum age to purchase and consume cannabis to 19 years old, although Alberta and Quebec have set it to 18 years old in line with their alcohol and tobacco laws. Manitoba is currently the only province or territory where the legal cannabis age is not identical to the alcohol and tobacco purchase age (19 for cannabis vs. 18 for alcohol/tobacco).
Under the newly elected Coalition Avenir Québec government, the Deputy Minister for Health in October 2018, Lionel Carmant announced that the Government will tighten the rules on cannabis consumption, including increasing the legal age to consume to 21 from 18. In 2019, CAQ announced Quebec will also ban the sale of cannabis candies and desserts, including chocolate. because federal cannabis regulations don't go far enough in protecting children from accidentally consuming the drug.
Retail distribution by province
After it was known that the federal legislation would give provinces the power to determine the method of distribution and sale, Ontario announced that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario would be the sole vendor, but not through the 651 stores that sell alcoholic beverages. A distinct subsidiary, Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (operating as Ontario Cannabis Store) would run online sales and physical stores would be opened in select municipalities. The product would also be marketed through online sales, also by the public entity.
In mid-August 2018 however, under the Progressive Conservative government that had been elected in the 2018 Ontario general election, an entirely new plan was formulated. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney announced that after 17 October 2018, the provincial Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp. will handle online cannabis sales and wholesale distribution to private retailers, which are expected to be in place by April. The Corporation will market the product to the public, strictly online. After approximately 1 April 2019, retail stores will open, operated by the private sector while the Corporation will be the wholesaler; it will also continue on-line sales as previously, and it will provide an on-line age-verification system, with 19 as the minimum age. Municipalities will be allowed to opt out of sales via brick-and-mortar stores by 19 January 2019. The province will provide $40 million over two years to help municipalities cover the expenses related to legal recreational cannabis. The government was planning to accept entries in mid-January 2019 for the first 25 retail cannabis licences; a lottery would be used to select the final contenders for operating the brick-and-mortar stores.
As of late August 2018, New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had decided to sell cannabis through government-owned stores, as liquor is sold.  Home-growing is not permitted in Quebec or Manitoba.
British Columbia planned to sell cannabis through some government stores but would allow private sector retail locations as well. Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan have decided to allow private retail sales with liquor control authorities responsible for regulating private stores. All of the provinces, except Manitoba, had some plan for online sales direct to consumers. Quebec planned to open 20 stores, while Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will have 24, 20, 12 and 4 retail locations, respectively. Saskatchewan planned to allow 51 and Alberta will allow up to 250 stores. There will be no cap on the number of private retail stores to be allowed throughout Ontario; applications will be vetted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario which will also inspect the shops after they open. The legislation was expected to state that producers and their affiliates will get a licence to operate only a single retail location at a production facility. "We want to make sure that the market is not dominated by one or two parties," according to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. However, the wording of the plan left some questions that would still need to be answered. Each province set its own procedures for retail sales, and these vary as to the ownership of retail stores (government or private enterprise) but all provinces decided to offer an option for on-line sales. As of 20 August 2019 there were 489 retail stores open in Canada, with 270 of those in Alberta and 59 in British Columbia.
In early September 2018, the Canadian government released a directive stating that service members will be allowed to use cannabis following legalization in October, but with restrictions on use depending on the individual's duties. Per the new regulations, service members may use legal cannabis, but must cease usage:
- 8 hours prior to duty: all personnel
- 24 hours prior to duty: anyone operating a weapon or vehicle
- 28 days before duty: members involved in high-risk activities such as high altitude parachuting, operating in a hyperbaric environment, and serving on military aircraft
- on international operations
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recreational marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco
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