When pot becomes legal
Canada : légalisation du cannabis (pot (fam.) herbe, marijuana)
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.
Hotbox Cafe, a smoking lounge in Toronto.