Senator raises specter of recreational cannabis legalization delay in Canada

Canada’s recreational marijuana industry might not be up and running until the end of 2018, an opposition senator has indicated, raising the specter of a months-long delay that would have major ramifications for businesses up and down the cannabis supply chain.

“The costs of missing that deadline would be severe,” according to The Globe and Mail.

Some costs include:

  • Producers  ramping up production for a widely expected marijuana shortage starting next summer might instead find themselves dealing with a cannabis glut if there is a significant delay.
  • Governments and private retailers are signing leases for storefronts. While government monopolies in places like Ontario and Quebec will be more able to swallow sunk costs stemming from a delay, privately owned retailers in Alberta and British Columbia might have a harder time.

Canada’s unelected and unaccountable senators are tasked with studying and sometimes amending legislation already approved by the elected members of the House of Commons.

Legislation passing through the Senate typically is a formality, but the chamber took on new life when then-Opposition Leader Justin Trudeau kicked all 32 Liberal senators out of the Liberal caucus in 2014 in a bid to reduce partisanship.

Since becoming prime minister, Trudeau has appointed only nonaligned independents.

Now the Liberals don’t have enough seats to control the pace of debate.

That could change, and the marijuana legislation could easily be passed, if independent senators team up with the handful of Liberals to form an ad-hoc coalition to set and enforce timelines for debates and votes.

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