If there’s three things that Canadians like, it’s beer, hockey and cannabis, and now it’s Canada’s turn to shine in the legal cannabis movement worldwide.
Canada will be making the sale of recreational cannabis federally legal later this summer, although the data is still to be announced. It’s exciting for so many Canadians, who have embraced cannabis into their culture for decades, yet as the country gets closer to legal cannabis, there are some growing pains that will undoubtedly need to be ironed out.
Here a few perspectives about Canadian cannabis, and legalization, that “Oovers” up North are seeing unfold as their nation makes the shift to full legalization:
The Best Bud in All the Land
Cannabis culture has forever been a part of what makes Canada “the true North strong and free”. While still not decriminalized in these days leading up to legalization, it’s not uncommon to get a whiff of the sweet smoke walking down streets, outside hangouts, or in green spaces where people gather.
All canna-Canadians know what “BC bud” is, with a country having a general consensus that the best cannabis you can get is in the province of British Colombia, with cannabis epicenters like Vancouver forever being synonymous with cannabis culture.
Canada’s path to legalization has never wavered in producing awesome cannabis, but it has been somewhat of a wayward path as the plans for full legalization develop.
Early Legalization for Medicinal Purposes
Like some of the legal U.S. states, Canada had early legalization of cannabis for medical use. Becoming legal in 2001, the legal medical cannabis industry in Canada started as pretty limited, but grew exponentially to encompass a variety of manufacturers called “Licenced Producers” or LPs. These LPs, of which there are 101, have been federally approved by Health Canada to provide cannabis products to those with cannabis cards.
Companies like Aurora, CannTrust, MedReleaf Corp, Maricann, Tilray and Tweed are leading the medical cannabis industry, and providing satisfied Canadian cannabis users awesome medical cannabis products from flower, to oils, to tinctures, and other advanced products. Sadly though, in Canada, edibles still aren’t legal to be sold.
As of December 2017, there were 269,502 registered users for medical cannabis through Health Canada across the country. When you think of it, that’s not much of a dent in the country’s national population of 36.2 million, especially in comparison to places like California, that had 12 million of its over 39 million people registered as medical users before recreational use legalized earlier this year.
With the relatively low take up in medical cannabis in Canada, it will be interesting to see how (and if) legal cannabis use and sales in Canada will increase with recreational legalization.
Recreational Cannabis is Legalized in Canada
It was just last year when the House of Commons of Canada passed bill C-45, which moved to legalize recreational cannabis across the country with the intent to “control and regulate its production, distribution and sale”. While legal cannabis is usually seen as a good thing, not everyone is jumping for joy with excitement.
Critics of Canada’s approach to medical cannabis see the Bill as failing to miss the mark on the societal and economic benefits of cannabis by placing very rigid restrictions on how cannabis is sold.
While cannabis will be federally legal, the federal government (that Justin Trudeau fellow that many get googly eyes for) has deferred control of cannabis legalization to the provinces, much like the model of the United States. This is where unity over legal cannabis in Canada ends, which each province operating in vastly different ways in the way they’re approaching legal cannabis.
In places like British Columbia, private companies will be able to open storefronts, allowing small businesses to thrive within the province. On the flipside, in provinces like Ontario, cannabis sales will be 100% in government control, pushing people who hoped to enter legal cannabis out of the markets.
While full implementation of legal cannabis in Canada won’t be full realized until later this year, and to be developed further into 2019, it’s yet to be seen how provincial control will unfold and affect the user experience. We can only hope it will be for the better for our Oovers up north.
Canadian Cannabis Spells Big Money and Global Partnerships
Despite the bumpy road to regulation, cannabis is proving to be a strong profit driver within the country.
News feeds are now being filled of stories of Canadian cannabis companies stepping up as “cannabis unicorns”, starting small, and growing past anyone’s expectations to be worth millions.
Canopy Growth, a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (Canada’s Wall Street), seeks to be the leading provider of cannabis related products nationally and internationally. The publicly traded company with the with the tag “WEED” is currently holding a market capitalization of $5.5 billion.
Other industry big wigs like Aurora are making some global impact recently completing the first ever private global export of medical cannabis to Italy.
Despite Restrictions, Canadians Ignite Cannabis
While we wait to see how Canada’s legalization will unfold, it’s hard to not notice that Canadian cannabis enthusiasts are helping to ignite cannabis for fellow Canadians and the greater cannabis community. Canadian brands, influencers, and companies are coming out of the green and showing themselves as the new faces of Canadian cannabis.
Modern Leaf, for instance is an excellent developing cannabis education community from Winnipeg, Manitoba that is combining dropping knowledge of cannabis with style and the enjoyment of the cannabis plant.
Canndora is a subscription program and community building site that brings Canadians and people all over the world some of the coolest new cannabis accessories, news, and engagement, focusing on women specifically.
Soon-to-be-launched Leaf Guru Inc promises to be Canada’s better version of apps and sites like WeedMaps or Leafly for accessing information on where to get Canada’s best legal strains.
Oov looks forward to seeing Canada’s legal cannabis market develop as we all recognize our similarities, find connections across borders, and continue to strengthen the global movement of legal cannabis together.
Anne-Marie is a freelance cannabis writer and educator dedicated to cultivating and disseminating important knowledge about cannabis as legalization spreads across the globe. After earning her BA and Masters, she followed an exciting career in the research and education field, finding innovative ways to create collaborations between community needs and research and academic pursuits.
She traveled the world with her husband and settled in Costa Rica where they also own a tattoo shop. She is now a full time writer for the world’s best cannabis companies, advocates and organizations.