No later than July 2018, Canadians will be able to pop into their local cannabis distributor to buy some pot — no medical prescription required.
The marijuana will be available by way of a tightly controlled and regulated supply chain. You can carry up to 30 grams of marijuana in your pocket or purse.
The product for sale will be free of flashy packaging, images of animals or people, or testimonials boasting about the product. You won’t be able to buy it out of a self-service or vending machine.
If a regulated retail framework is not in place in your province, you can order online from a federally licensed producer, and the product will be securely delivered to your home.
Edibles probably won’t be available — federal regulations for their sale are unlikely to yet be in place — but you can make them yourself at home.
Anyone under the age of 18 is out of luck; provinces and territories will have the option to set the minimum age higher than 18.
Advertisements for cannabis will only be allowed in places where anyone underage wouldn’t be able to see them, but you will see campaigns targeted at youth to discourage them from using pot.
Those caught selling marijuana to a minor could face up to 14 years in jail.
The legislation’s intention is to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to pot, said Liberal MP Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and the government’s point man on the legalized-marijuana file.
“It is not our intent to promote the use of this drug,” said Blair. “Too many of our kids currently have access to cannabis.”
It’s important the government keep the prices of the legal pot low enough to compete with the black market.
“The challenge is regulating prices,” said Anindya Sen, professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and chair of its Master of Public Service Program.
If the cost of the taxed, regulated product far exceeds the black market price, it would “defeat the entire purpose of this experiment,” he notes.
Street price for marijuana averages $8 to $10 per gram right now, said Sen, depending on where you live.
“A good strategy would be, tax-included on a per-gram basis, the legal products shouldn’t be more than $11 or $12 maximum a gram.
“I think there’s an argument that people might be willing to pay a bit more for a legal product as opposed to an illegal supply.”
Keeping prices competitive will be the only way to pull pot revenues away from criminal organizations.
“The government should be very careful of pushing this margin,” said Sen. “There’s an opportunity to eliminate the black market, so we need to be very careful.”
Don’t even think about driving after you light up.
“Driving while impaired by drugs is, and will remain, illegal,” said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Thursday, adding that new driving offences have been created.
WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould: Impaired driving is and will remain illegal
You’ll also want to leave your pot at home if you’re travelling to the States. Importing and exporting marijuana will remain illegal, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
If all this sound like a hassle and you just want to stay home, you could grow your own pot — each household will be allowed up to four plants, not to be taller than one metre in height.
But keep in mind that until marijuana is legalized next year, all existing laws surrounding cannabis must be respected.
“This must be an orderly transition, it’s not a free-for-all,” said Goodale.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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