Canada moves to expedite pardons for minor marijuana convictions

Packaging for a recreational cannabis product is shown at Canopy Growth Corporation's Tweed headquarters in Smiths Falls Ont. on Friday Oct. 12 2018. Canopy Growth Corp. has signed a deal to acquire Ebbu Inc. a Colorado-based hemp researcher

Packaging for a recreational cannabis product is shown at Canopy Growth Corporation's Tweed headquarters in Smiths Falls Ont. on Friday Oct. 12 2018. Canopy Growth Corp. has signed a deal to acquire Ebbu Inc. a Colorado-based hemp researcher

The move is a political win for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who vowed to legalize cannabis during his 2015 election campaign.

Nearly three years since the Trudeau Liberals were elected - cannabis products are now legal in Canada.

"It did not crash", he told a conference call with reporters. "That needs to stop and that's exactly what we have done". All sales must be through government-owned cannabis stores, of which four opened Wednesday in Montreal (although one is almost impossible to get to because of pandemic street repairs that have paralyzed city traffic for what seems like years).

The dispensary, Canadian Safe Cannabis Services, has been open in Kamloops for the better part of a decade, and Semeniuk doesn't plan to switch to the swanky government-run shop - regardless of its legality.

To him, that is more important than access to legal product, he said.

It's a different story in other provinces, where brick-and-mortar stores across the country welcomed the first buyers at the crack of midnight.

British Columbia will have both private and government stores, but has yet to issue any private licenses.

Hundreds gathered outside licensed retailers, eagerly awaiting their turn to make their own purchases.

Consultants in pressed black aprons served a mostly older clientele browsing varieties of dried cannabis and bottles of tinctures.

Though the province now only has one BC Cannabis Store open, and no privately operated stores have received final licensing approval, British Columbians don't need to travel to Kamloops to buy marijuana legally. Some will succeed, many will not, but there's no reason for you to stop doing what you've been doing until April 1st, even if you've been doing it for years to the satisfaction of legions of customers. Viviana Zanocco of the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, which is in charge of government-run pot stores in the province, said the design was meant to feel warm and inviting.

Canopy Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton rang in the first sales to residents Ian Power and Nikki Rose.

Across the border, 9 USA states and Washington DC have legalised recreational cannabis to those aged over 21.

The big difference between cannabis legalization in the USA and Canada, Hawkins added, has been "the blessing provincial governments (in Canada) have received from their federal government".

For the most part, however, provinces will have one federally run online shopping destination.

The only legal weed that's for sale in the province sits inside the BC Cannabis Store down the street or it can be ordered online.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. was among the worst decliners on Wednesday shortly after the market opened, posting at 9:50am a 15 percent slide that gave investors their worst day since February.

According to CNBC, he said: "Prohibition has ended right now".

And, of course, there were plenty of memes and jokes on social media, including many with well-known marijuana advocate Snoop Dogg, and some reading, "Congratulations drugs for winning the war on drugs". In August, Canada approved a device to detect levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element in cannabis, in a driver's oral fluids.

With its northern neighbor legalizing and its southern neighbor mulling it, can the world's most influential proponent of the drug war be far behind?

Some on social media have criticized the offerings as too expensive, arguing the prices could allow illicit drug dealers to thrive, but Farnworth insisted the government sales are competitive.

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