Canada Becomes First G-7 To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Canadian lawmakers passed the Cannabis Act, also known as C-45 which will legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use. It will now move on to the governor for royal assent. Prime Minister Trudeau has been very supportive of the legalization effort and once he signs off, a specific date will be chosen for the law to take effect. Sales are expected to begin within eight to 12 weeks.

“This is a historic step forward for the movement to end marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We commend the members of Parliament and the prime minister for their extraordinary demonstration of leadership on this issue. Canada will set a great example for countries that are considering similar reforms, and it will inspire much-needed debate in those that are not.

Canada will be the first G7 nation to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level. Uruguay was the first country that legalized recreational marijuana after signing the legislation into law in December 2013.  The Cannabis Act will create an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, and all products will be sold in plain packaging with clearly marked labels.

Tvert added, “Marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol, and Canada is about to start treating it that way. Adults will finally be able to purchase it safely and legally in regulated, taxpaying businesses rather than resorting to the illegal market. Products will be tightly controlled and subject to strict packaging and labeling requirements, rather than being sold in plastic baggies alongside other illegal substances.”

“Canada has become the world’s top source of public venture and growth capital for cannabis companies,” said Kenneth Sam, partner of the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. “Under current circumstances, there is a vibrant public market for cannabis companies in Canada that provide higher valuations and greater access to capital.  Cannabis companies have already raised over $2.4 billion in capital and there are several “unicorns” ($1 billion+ companies) that have been minted in Canada.  Many U.S. cannabis companies have been looking to the Canadian capital markets for financing and liquidity.”

One voice that wasn’t too happy with the move by Canadian lawmakers was the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. President Kevin Sabet said, “Despite warnings and opposition from major medical groups, and international treaties outlawing the legal sales of marijuana, Canada has, on a mainly party-line vote, sided with the marijuana industry and legalized the drug for those 18 and older. As expected, investors are in a frenzy to make money, and they are seizing on the fact that several pro-health amendments to the law were defeated.”

He went on to say, “A sensible amendment to create a public registry of investors in pot companies was defeated, as was an amendment allowing provinces to determine their own home cultivation laws. These could have strengthened the law much further. This dangerous law would allow individuals to make their own high-potency pot candies, gummies and 99% pure extracts (compare that with 5% potent Woodstock weed).”



Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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