(This story has been updated to reflect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement Wednesday that sales of recreational cannabis will begin in October.)
Canada ended 95 years of cannabis prohibition Tuesday, passing landmark legislation – Bill C-45 – that lays the groundwork for a multibillion-dollar marijuana industry.
The country becomes the first G-20 nation to legalize recreational cannabis, a move that one analyst called a “foundational step for the world.”
With the Senate’s approval of the latest House version, royal assent is expected to happen later this week, which sets the stage for recreational cannabis sales to begin across the country Oct. 17.
Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton said the vote is part of a global movement.
“It’s a continued progression toward the reality that prohibition is crumbling. This is a global thing,” he said.
‘Catalyst’ for the world
Canadian multinational cannabis companies like Canopy, Aurora Cannabis, Tilray and Cronos Group have been front and center in capitalizing on rapidly growing medical cannabis markets around the world; roughly three dozen governments have already embraced medical usage.
Industry players see fertile ground for other countries to follow Canada’s lead into adult use.
Canada’s move to end prohibition is especially “massive” for the activists, entrepreneurs, consumers and anyone on the ancillary side, according to Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein.
“We see this rippling across Europe. We see this rippling in the U.S., South America, and we’re even seeing movement in Asia,” he said. “Globally, there are strong tailwinds.
“We think this will be a catalyst for the rest of the world.”
Not the destination
The industry breathed a sigh of relief last week when Canada’s federal government rejected several of the Senate’s proposed amendments, which sources said would have made it harder for legal recreational marijuana to overtake the black market.
Analysts see Canada’s federal and provincial legislation as part of an evolution.
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us with regard to edibles and other regulations, but this lays the foundation for what’s going to be a massive industry in Canada,” said Deepak Anand, vice president of government relations for Toronto-based consultancy Cannabis Compliance.
Canada has committed to regulating edibles and infused products within one year of the federal Cannabis Act coming into force.
Highly anticipated regulations involving micro-cultivation, micro-processing, hemp and nurseries are expected be released in the coming weeks.
“This solidifies the whole industry and cements our place in history as being the first G-20 nation to legalize cannabis for nonmedical purposes,” Anand said.
“It’s the end of prohibition.”
Matt Lamers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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