Legal Marijuana Will Be Rolled Out Very Differently In Canada Than In The United States, To Begin October 17

Legalized cannabis sales are to begin across Canada as of October 17 of this year, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

AHPhotosWPG / iStock

Legalized cannabis sales are to begin across Canada as of October 17 of this year, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

With an allowance to cultivate up to four plants in one’s own primary residence – in some provinces at least, while others such as Quebec have barred the practice for now – and certain avenues of mail-order marijuana remaining legal, Canada is set to differentiate itself from the framework laid out earlier by certain states in the American union, according to NBC News.

While Colorado, for example, does allow for the cultivation of six cannabis plants, of which three can be currently in flower, Canada’s law goes a bit further in allowing for the ordering of cannabis online, with delivery being fulfilled via mail. This is currently illegal in the United States, even in states that have elected to decriminalize or legalize the cannabis plant.

The Liberal Party of Canada headed up by incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on the promise to legalize cannabis during his successful campaign of 2015, according to CTV News. After his election, embattled by criticisms of his foreign visits to India and his inability to deliver on his promise to reform the electoral system away from FPTP, or first-past-the-post, Trudeau and his Liberal caucus set to deliver, at least partially, on his platform of ending the prohibition of cannabis in Canada.

Rising to speak in the House of Commons during Question Period on Wednesday, according to The National Post, Trudeau stated that the date for legalization in Canada would be October 17 of this year, fulfilling his campaign promise. Taking questions after the session and speaking to representatives of the press, Trudeau had a few words to share surrounding the controversial legislation.

“We heard from provinces and territories who told us they needed more time to transition to this new framework, so our government will continue to work in full partnership with them, to ensure the smooth and orderly implementation of this new law across Canada.”

Additional differences between the legalization framework in certain U.S. jurisdictions also appear with regards to age differences. The federal law passed by the Canadian Senate would see the minimum age of purchase for cannabis set at 18, with most provinces adding an additional year to coincide with their liquor laws. The current legal age for marijuana possession in participating states in the U.S. is set much higher at age 21.

  Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images

Tax frameworks are also showing a great divide, with the Canadian government looking to set the bar initially at a tax rate of 10 percent or approximately $1 per gram, with three-quarters of all garnered tax revenue being returned to the provincial government overseeing the sale. This is in stark contrast of a federal tax rate set by the State of Washington of 37 percent, or the whopping 50 percent state tax on cannabis flower being imposed by the state of California. These high tax rates are often blamed for a persistence of black or gray market cannabis competing against the legal product which is very price sensitive.

The disparate approaches to legalization and taxation will be a wonderful experiment, according to Matt Gray, founder and CEO of Herb, a Toronto-based publication platform for the cannabis industry.

“It’s this amazing case study for countries globally to see the amazing benefits that legalizing cannabis can have on things like the economy, eradicating the black market and getting cannabis out of the hands of minors.”

No matter one’s personal take on the issue, the reality of cannabis legalization becoming the law of the land in Canada is soon to be a moot point as of mid-October, with all of the pros and cons pursuant to the change in both the culture and the legal framework remaining a figment of a future we’ve yet to see. Pure speculation based on educated guesses, in so many words.

With President Donald Trump signaling recently that he may be amenable to effectively decriminalize marijuana, according to Forbes – at least at the federal level, leaving the decision up to individual states – those states with a head start on the matter may learn from the Canadian experiment when it comes to fully sanctioned cannabis sales and the industry that crops up around it.