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At a news conference, Ralph Goodale, Canada’s public safety minister, said the government would introduce legislation to make it easier for Canadians convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana to obtain a pardon.
The stated rationale for legalizing cannabis was to tame an illegal multibillion-dollar trade.
The legalization of cannabis has led to a so-called “green rush,” with licensed cannabis growers pressing to get a foothold in what is expected to be a $5 billion industry (6.5 billion Canadian dollars) by 2020, buttressed by the expected arrival of thousands of pot tourists from the United States.
After months of soaring share prices, though, the first day of legal marijuana sales initially saw steep drops in the value of marijuana stocks.
They will also be permitted a maximum of four homegrown marijuana plants per household in most provinces.
Marijuana for medical purposes has been legal in Canada since 2001, and about 330,000 Canadians, including cancer patients, are registered to receive it from licensed producers.In a stinging editorial published on Monday, for example, the Canadian Medical Association Journal called the government’s legalization plan an “uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”It called on the government to promise to change the law if it leads to increased marijuana use.Under Canada’s new federal cannabis act, adults will be allowed to possess, carry and share with other adults up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, enough to roll roughly 60 regular-size joints.Toronto had 92 illegal dispensaries the day before legalization, though 56 were shut down Wednesday afternoon. Some illegal shops in both cities are hoping to get licensed.Chief Constable Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department, who is also the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said this week that at a time of limited resources, policing marijuana would not suddenly become law enforcement’s primary concern.“Fentanyl kills 11 Canadians a day,” he said, referring to the powerful synthetic opioid that is a public health scourge in some cities like Vancouver.Among many open questions are how the police will test drivers who may be high and how employers deal with employees who smoke before coming to work.Bernard Le Foll, a specialist in addiction at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, a leading teaching hospital and research organization, said that although the center supported legalization, he was concerned that the public dissemination of information about risks had been insufficient.“Cannabis is not a benign substance,” Dr. “There is a clear risk of addiction, and it can produce significant mental health issues if used by the wrong kind of people.”Jean-Sébastien Fallu, an associate professor of applied psychology and a specialist in addiction at Université de Montréal, said he particularly worried about the effects on young people.“We don’t want young people to feel stigmatized, for example, if they don’t use cannabis,” Professor Fallu said.As online demand soared, stocks quickly ran out, creating fears of marijuana shortages.In New Brunswick, the government cannabis agency provided a step-by-step guide on its website on how to roll a joint.At the government cannabis store in Montreal — one of 12 in Quebec — a line stretched across a long city block on Wednesday morning.Some of the hundreds of people had waited since a.m., anticipating the store’s 10 a.m. Kate Guihan, 29, a beautician, said she planned to celebrate the “historic moment” on Wednesday night with several puffs on a joint.