When pot be­comes le­gal

Ca­na­da : lé­ga­li­sa­tion du can­na­bis (pot (fam.) herbe, ma­ri­jua­na)

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Lé­ga­li­sa­tion du can­na­bis ré­créa­tif au Ca­na­da : quelles consé­quences ?

Le 17 oc­tobre der­nier, le Ca­na­da lé­ga­li­sait le can­na­bis ré­créa­tif. Les Ca­na­diens peuvent dé­sor­mais ache­ter, consom­mer et cul­ti­ver du can­na­bis en toute lé­ga­li­té, dans une quan­ti­té li­mi­tée. Les pro­duits dé­ri­vés conte­nant de la ma­ri­jua­na se­ront quant à eux lé­ga­li­sés en oc­tobre 2019. Le Ca­na­da est le deuxième pays du monde à fran­chir le pas, après l’Uru­guay. Quels im­pacts sur la so­cié­té et sur l’éco­no­mie ca­na­diennes ?

Ha­mil­ton, On­ta­rio — Up on the third floor of a com­mer­cial buil­ding near the ci­ty’s edge is a vi­sion of Ca­na­da’s fu­ture. To the sound of throb­bing mu­sic, hun­dreds of people jo­ckey around the ma­ri­jua­na-in­fu­sed pro­ducts laid out for sale in a pop-up can­na­bis mar­ket. Ma­ri­jua­na cin­na­mon buns. Ma­ri­jua­na ce­real bars and glu­ten-free coo­kies. Ma­ri­jua­na foot scrub, bath bombs, lip chap.

2. Amid a haze of smoke sits a por­table Tim Hor­tons cof­fee urn, of­fe­ring shop­pers a can­na­bis ver­sion of the clas­sic Ca­na­dian be­ve­rage — a double double, or double cream and double su­gar — in­fu­sed with te­tra­hy­dro­can­na­bi­nol, the che­mi­cal that causes a high. On Oc­to­ber 17, af­ter 95 years of pro­hi­bi­tion, Ca­na­da be­came the se­cond coun­try in the world to le­gal- ize can­na­bis, af­ter Uru­guay — a coun­try with less than one-10th its po­pu­la­tion.


3. “It’s a day in Ca­na­dian his­to­ry we’ll look back on and be proud of,” said Hi­la­ry Black, one of the coun­try’s lea­ding can­na­bis ac­ti­vists, who now works on pa­tient ad­vo­ca­cy and edu­ca­tion for Ca­no­py Growth Corp., the world’s lar­gest can­na­bis com­pa­ny. “We are ve­ry much ta­king a strong lea­der­ship po­si­tion on the glo­bal stage.”

4. As the le­ga­li­za­tion date ap­proa­ched, much of the fo­cus was on lo­gis­tics — set­ting up laws for where people can smoke and buy can­na­bis, fi­gu­ring out how po­lice will test dri­vers for its si­gns, draf­ting work­place po­li­cies and jo­ckeying for a piece of the boo­ming mul­ti­bil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try. But the pop-up can­na­bis mar­ket — where eve­ry­thing will re­main ille­gal un­til next year, when the sale of can­na­bis-in­fu­sed edibles and other pro­ducts be­comes le­gal — prompts lar­ger ques­tions about how can­na­bis will change the culture of Ca­na­da. Will it turn ste­reo­ty­pi­cal­ly po­lite and slight­ly re­ser­ved Ca­na­dians in­to laid-back, sum­me­ry people?


5. Al­rea­dy, Ca­na­dians smoke a lot of pot. Sta­tis­tics col­lec­ted by the na­tio­nal cen­sus bu­reau re­veal that 42.5 percent of Ca­na­dians have tried ma­ri­jua­na. A 2013 UNI­CEF re­port found that among people ages 15 to 24, one-third had consu­med can­na­bis in the pre­vious three months — ma­king Ca­na­dian youth the big­gest

par­ta­kers in the world. Some people think le­ga­li­za­tion will bring en­or­mous changes not just to Ca­na­da, but to the rest of the world.

6. “Pro­hi­bi­tion causes se­rious, se­rious harm around the world,” said Black, the ma­ri­jua­na ad­vo­cate. In Ca­na­da, she said, people convic­ted of can­na­bis pos­ses­sion have his­to­ri­cal­ly been dis­pro­por­tio­nal­ly in­di­ge­nous or black. “It’s a se­rious so­cial jus­tice is­sue we are cor­rec­ting in Ca­na­da, and I pray we are going to pull the world with us,” she said. Some coun­tries might fol­low be­cause of eco­no­mics. Mar­ket ana­lysts ex­pect the in­dus­try to reach $5 bil­lion by 2020, in­jec­ting jobs back in­to hol­lo­wed-out ma­nu­fac­tu­ring towns like Smith Falls, On­ta­rio, where Ca­no­py is head­quar­te­red. 7. “Oct. 17 is day one of fo­re­ver,” said the ow­ner of the Hot­box Lounge in To­ron­to’s Ken­sing­ton Mar­ket, who has gone by the name Abi Roach for two de­cades. For the past 18 years, she has been sel­ling pot-smo­king equip­ment and in­vi­ting pot smo­kers to roll, rent bongs and take hits from the rigs li­ned up on her “dab bar.” “Now, our job is to re­form the law to the point can­na­bis is going to be a nor­mal part of our lives, whe­ther we choose to consume it or not,” she conti­nued.


8. Others are more skep­ti­cal. “I don’t think we are going to see a dra­ma­tic in­crease of can­na­bis use, maybe just at first be­cause of the no­vel­ty fac­tor,” said Ge­raint Os­borne, a so­cio­lo­gy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Al­ber­ta who has stu­died can­na­bis use for 13 years. An­drew Ha­tha­way, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Guelph so­cio­lo­gy pro­fes­sor who has al­so stu­died can­na­bis use, won­ders how cor­po­ra­ti­za­tion and re­gu­la­tion will af­fect the ste­reo­ty­pi­cal­ly pea­ce­nik, li­be­ral and an­ti-es­ta­blish­ment can­na­bis culture. He poin­ted out that the go­vern­ment’s new re­gu­la­tions — which co­di­fy how much a per­son can buy, car­ry and share (30 grams), as well as where and how it can be in­ges­ted (can­na­bis flo­wer and low-po­ten­cy oil on­ly, for now) — are in­ten­ded to sup­press the use of can­na­bis, not en­cou­rage it.

9. One big ques­tion is what will hap­pen to the huge ille­gal marketplace, peg­ged at 5.3 bil­lion Ca­na­dian dol­lars by Sta­tis­tics Ca­na­da. Since le­ga­li­za­tion will pro­vide go­vern­ments with a new in­come stream in taxes, most people ex­pect the po­lice to crack down on the gray areas. But the ground is shif­ting as the provinces set up re­gu­la­tions for the new law.

10. In Au­gust, the new­ly elec­ted go­vern­ment of On­ta­rio scrap­ped its plan to sell can­na­bis at go­vern­ment stores, de­cla­ring it will is­sue pri­vate li­censes ins­tead. In Sep­tem­ber, it ex­pan­ded the rules on where people could consume, from on­ly pri­vate pro­per­ty to anyw­here smo­king was le­gal. “We ne­ver ex­pec­ted we would be able to smoke can­na­bis in the street,” said Li­sa Camp­bell, chair­wo­man of the On­ta­rio Can­na­bis Consu­mer and Re­tail Al­liance.

11. Un­til re­cent­ly, when she foun­ded the can­na­bis sub­si­dia­ry of her fa­mi­ly’s wine and spi­rit com­pa­ny, Camp­bell ran the Green Mar­ket, a re­gu­lar pop-up can­na­bis edibles mar­ket in To­ron­to. The mar­ket ran around 30 events, she said — all of them ille­gal. “We thought it was a pipe dream that all these pop-ups we were doing would get li­censes and be­come le­gi­ti­mate,” she said. The lob­bying will conti­nue un­til what Camp­bell calls “peak le­ga­li­za­tion” — a year from now, when the go­vern­ment plans to ex­pand the scope of le­gal ma­ri­jua­na pro­ducts in Ca­na­da to in­clude edibles, ex­tracts and creams.

(Cole Burs­ton/The New York Times)

Hot­box Cafe, a smo­king lounge in To­ron­to.


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