Police checkpoints, long lines mark Day 2 of legalization in Montreal

Customers lineup at a government cannabis store Thursday, October 18, 2018 in Montreal on the second day of the legal cannabis sales in Canada. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Montreal police are out in full force one day after marijuana became legal across the country.

Drivers who were making their way home during rush hour came upon a police checkpoint on Parc Avenue. As a result, traffic was moved down to one lane on the major artery.

“It’s one of the first ones we did,” police spokesperson Raphael Bergeron said of the checkpoint.

READ MORE: Marijuana is legal in Canada but expect tougher rules in Quebec

Armed with flashlights, police officers checked to make sure Montrealers behind the wheel were not under the influence of cannabis, alcohol or any kind of others drugs.

The operation, which started around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, lasted more than two hours. Bergeron said police officers may take to another spot for the rest of the night.

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Police are asking Montrealers to be vigilant and to not get behind the wheel if they’ve smoked or consumed pot.

“If you do drugs, don’t drive,” Bergeron said. “It’s like alcohol.”

Huge lines and sales

On Wednesday, hundreds of people lined up to buy pot at the government-run Société québécoise du cannabis stores (SQDC) across the province, wanting to be part of a historic moment.

When stores closed at 9 p.m., the lineup outside the Montreal SQDC store on Ste-Catherine Street West, still wrapped around the block. Police were even called in to disperse the unhappy customers.

Montreal police disperse the crowds hoping to get in to Montreal cannabis store ahead of closing time. Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. TVA

The SQDC says in-store orders for Wednesday totalled 12,500.

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And the frenzy didn’t stop there. Thursday morning, half an hour before the downtown Montreal store was set to open, the line once again stretched around the block.

READ MORE: Long lineup at Montreal pot shop as legalization begins

While the number of people waiting in line was impressive, it was nothing compared to online SQDC sales which hit 30,000 with over 450,000 site visits in 15 hours.

Consumers, however, should be wary of fraudulent websites trying to pass themselves off as online SQDC retailers, using similar names and images in an attempt to gather personal information.

SQDC spokesperson Mathieu Gaudreault said the organization was aware that fake websites were cropping up and that its information technology department was taking the necessary measures to deal with the issue.

Gauldreault warned clients to remain vigilant saying the SQDC has only one website at

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Furthermore, the SQDC won’t prompt you for personal information just to peruse the online store.

“If all you want to do is visit the site, you will only be asked for your age,” he explained. “Only if you make a purchase will you be asked to enter more information.”

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One fake website that made headlines Wednesday — has already been shut down, but others, such as still remain.

Shortages expected

With the huge demand for products continuing on Day 2 of legalization, many wonder if the SQDC won’t run into problems when it comes to keeping up with demand.

Gaudreault said the SQDC had prepared for the grand opening, but restocking was an issue.

“We were the first to put in our orders,” he said, adding the SQDC was ready for a huge demand but explained that orders weren’t based on a “solid business case” as there was no data to go on.

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Click to play video: 'Rolling in the green in Quebec'
Rolling in the green in Quebec

Gauldreault insisted the situation isn’t unique to Quebec with all provinces running the risk of running out of stock.

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“It’s a reality all provinces face,” Gaudreault said, adding the limited number of licensed producers was an issue.

In a written statement released Thursday, the SQDC admitted some products were not currently available online, and that shortages were to be expected especially for oils, capsules, atomizers and pre-rolled joints.

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