In a historic moment, the Canadian Senate voted 52-29 to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana on a nationwide basis. The country is only the second in the world to legalize cannabis on a national scale — the first was Uruguay in 2013.
The so-called Cannabis Act was largely supported by both lawmakers and citizens across the country. The government has been vying for legalization for over a year, saying in an official statement, “The current approach to cannabis does not work.”
Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since the early 2000s. But this new law, which makes it legal for anyone over the age of 18 to possess less than 30 grams of marijuana and for anyone to grow up to four marijuana plants in their home, will change everything.
Don’t expect edibles — at least for the first year
Visit Colorado, and you’ll find rows of enticing glass jars packed full of every type of marijuana strain. There are also edibles such as colorful gummies, tasty brownies and cookies, and so much more available in retailers throughout the state.
But that’s not how it’ll be in Canada when retailers add marijuana to their store shelves. Expect to see plain, nondescript packaging that you may not notice is actually drugs.
Marijuana product packaging will be standardized
The vast majority of Canadians support regulated packaging for marijuana products. Like cigarettes, these branding elements would include warnings and standardized messaging, just like you’d see on tobacco products.
“As front-line retailers for current and potential products in the same category, we stand with the majority of Canadians when we say that both marijuana and tobacco cigarettes should face consistent regulations on branding elements, health warnings and other design features when they will soon co-exist in Canada” Satinder Chera, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association told newstage.com. “It’s critical at this stage of a new product being introduced to an established category—especially with something like marijuana cigarettes—that consumers, retailers, and regulators are all on the same page.”
They’re attempting to curtail the black market
One of the reasons Canada opted to legalize cannabis? They’re trying to abolish the back alley pot deals happening on the black market. It’s widely recognized that black market drugs fuel violence around the world and that drug cartels are responsible for crimes including murders, beheadings, kidnapping, and torture. Government regulation will hopefully reduce these crimes and also help boost the economy by creating legitimate jobs.
Legalization isn’t entirely positive
Not everything about legalizing marijuana is positive, however. Critics cite health evidence that weed can have long-term effects on humans. Regular use can lead to dependence, overuse, accidents, anxiety, and even overdoses or psychotic episodes in extreme cases.
And not everyone is on board with the standardized packaging, either.
“Plain packaging that treats cannabis like tobacco is outrageous and scientifically wrong,” Cam Battley, chief corporate officer of Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis told Bloomberg. “The federal government is risking a policy fail.” He argues that illegally sold products often come in beautiful packaging and that taking that right away is a move in the “wrong direction.”
It’s still unclear how the marijuana packaging rules will change as time goes on. But for now, cannabis supporters in Canada are busy celebrating their hard-won victory for legalization.
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