October 17 marks a profound historical moment: Canada legalizes cannabis.
As the first G-7 nation to federally legalize, Canada enhances its reputation as a global leader in health, justice, and common sense. After Oct. 17, the sky-will-fall fears about legalization, which began to dissipate with state legalization in the US, will finally and conclusively dissolve.
Leafly’s correspondents will file reports from provinces east-to-west over the 24 hour period that is Legalization Day.
Tuesday, Oct. 16
So What Happens to Dispensaries?
TORONTO—There are dozens if not hundreds of storefront medical marijuana dispensaries around the greater Toronto area. What happens to them on Oct. 17, when legalization kicks in?
They will go away.
Most of them, anyway. “Anyone operating a storefront after Oct. 17 is doing so illegally,” the Ontario Attorney General’s office said on Monday. Dispensary owners who continue to operate past tomorrow risk losing their chance to apply for a license to re-open as a legal retail cannabis store. Currently, Ontario will offer online cannabis sales only, starting Oct. 17. But the province plans to issue licenses to privately owned brick-and-mortar shops later next year.
Toronto Police have always considered the dispensaries to be illegal (and often raided them to press the point), but their legal status remained murky due to prior case law and issues of patient access. Health Canada runs the LP program, in which patients sign up with a licensed producer and receive their medicine in the mail. The national health agency does not license any storefront dispensaries.
Health Canada’s medical cannabis program, by the way, remains the same after Oct. 17.
Those warnings seemed to be playing out on the streets of Toronto today. Earlier this afternoon, a half-dozen individual patient attempted to enter the Broadview Dispensary, on Queen Street not far from Leafly’s Toronto offices. Each buzzed the front box to be let in, but none received an answer or an open door. Eventually they each walked away.
There was no sign explaining why the doors remained closed.
Pop-up Events Popping in Toronto
Legalization Day parties are happening in Toronto, Ottawa, St. John’s, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and countless other cities tonight and tomorrow.
Some of the hottest events in Toronto include:
Leafly’s Bud Drop. Oct. 16. Legalization kickoff at the Mod Club, Toronto, featuring Dwayne Gretzky. Sold out, sorry, no tickets, even our editors can’t get their friends in. Seriously.
The Great Canadian $25,000 Cannabis Scavenger Hunt. Oct. 16. A street team put up these posters (left) all over downtown Toronto last night. Local shop Cannabis and Coffee is attempting a Guinness World Record in several cannabis categories with a cannabis themed scavenger hunt. I think you’re supposed to dress in Halloween costume as your favorite 420-friendly celebrity. Register on their website to participate.
Live Your Latitude: A Candid Cannabis Conversation. Oct. 16. Six women share their cannabis stories and answer questions in a panel moderated by 48Nrth CEO Alison Gordon and Model/DJ and cannabis advocate Chelsea Leyland. The Drake Hotel Lounge, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Canada’s Legalization Party. Oct. 16. Billed as a “dress to impress” legalization party for professionals, this event by the Entrepreneurship Society and cannabis brand Fireside will include free giveaways, cannabis cooking tips, and a live DJ set—including bottle service. Swank. Things kick off at Love Child Social House at 6 p.m. and the music turns up around 9 p.m., according to the event’s Facebook page.
Past Cannabis Conviction? Answers Coming Soon
The point person for the Canadian government’s legalization of pot says Canadians will know soon what will happen with previous criminal convictions for cannabis possession.
BREAKING: CTV News has confirmed that the government of Canada will announce tomorrow morning that it intends to give pardons to Canadians who have been convicted of simple possession of marijuana of 30 grams or less. #CannabisLegalization #cannabiscanada #marijuananews
— CTV Atlantic (@CTVAtlantic) October 16, 2018
Just hours before recreational marijuana becomes legal Wednesday, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair said answers will be forthcoming shortly that will help Canadian understand the appropriate way those criminal records will be addressed.
The former Toronto police chief says the issue could not be dealt with until the law was changed.
Territories to Let Towns Block Cannabis Sales
Northern communities will be allowed to prevent retail cannabis stores from opening even after the drug becomes legal on Wednesday. Legislation in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon gives towns the option of voting to block cannabis stores within their boundaries.
Quebec Cannabis Stores Ramping Up Customer Experience
MONTREAL—When Quebec’s state-run cannabis outlets open Wednesday morning, they will offer some 110 products, from containers of pre-rolled Tsunami brand joints to small vials of cannabis oil.
But in a set-up closer to a pharmacy than a wine boutique, customers will have to wait to be served by a clerk who keeps products behind a counter. And they will not be allowed into the shop until they pass an ID check to prove they are of legal age.
Media were invited Tuesday to tour a Montreal outlet of the Quebec Cannabis Corp., the subsidiary of the provincial liquor corporation that has exclusive control over sales in the province.
From the outside, the only indication of what is for sale is a discreet Quebec Cannabis Corp. logo.
In a statement, the Quebec Cannabis Corp. said the stores reflect its mission “to make all the information accessible without encouraging consumption.”
Quebec has priced products starting at $5.25 a gram, taxes included. In addition to the 12 stores opening across the province, the corporation will begin offering online sales Wednesday. Deliveries will be made by Canada Post, which will be instructed to verify the age of recipients.
Be Careful at the Border, US Officials Warn
US Customs and Border Protection is reiterating that marijuana remains illegal under US federal law.
Executive Assistant Commissioner Todd Owen of the US Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations said it’s still viewed as illegal and possession of it at the border is subject to arrest and prosecution.
Owen says admittance of past marijuana use could make a Canadian inadmissible. He also says a foreign national refusing to answer may make that person inadmissible.
NHL to Maintain League’s Lenient Approach
Canada on Wednesday will become the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. That means it will be available under the law in seven more NHL cities (it’s been legal to adults in Denver since 2012). The move is a step forward for athletes who believe marijuana has been stigmatized and should be accepted as a form of treatment.
“It was so tainted for a long time,” Ottawa Senators forward Matt Duchene said. “And now people are starting to learn a little bit more about it and there is definitely some positive uses to different elements of it.”
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association plan no changes to their joint drug-testing policy, under which players are not punished for positive marijuana tests. It is the most lenient approach to cannabis by any major North American professional sports league.
“The Substance Abuse & Behavioral Health Program for decades has been educating players on using drugs, legal or illegal,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “That process will continue and we will consider what changes, if any, in our program have to be made. But right now, we think based on the educational level and what we do test for and how we test, at least for the time being, we’re comfortable with where we are.”
While the NFL and NBA can suspend and MLB can fine players for multiple marijuana infractions, only a significantly high amount of the drug found in NHL/NHLPA testing triggers a referral to behavioral health program doctors. Retired pro Riley Cote estimated about half of players during his NHL career from 2007-2010 used some sort of cannabis for medicinal purposes, though players suggest use in hockey currently is lower than the population at large.