"Canada one step closer to marijuana legalization"
maybe so, but............
With its patchwork of half-baked, absurd laws, Canada isn't ready for legal weed
"With billions of dollars invested, millions of grams cultivated and thousands of people employed, the grand premiere of Canada’s legal cannabis system is almost upon us. From producers to front-line workers to police to many levels of regulators, a nation is scurrying to ready itself before the curtain lifts. But it will debut as a ragged production. Parts of the set may be unpainted. Not everyone will know their lines. The theater may be variously oversold and partly empty. And whole sections of the stage will remain in darkness.
That’s because Canada’s map will be worse than a splotchy patchwork of where one can shop for marijuana, where one can’t, where one can’t yet
and where it kind-of-depends-on-a-few-things. Enforcement of drug-impaired driving laws and other new cannabis-related violations will vary from place to place. Home-grow rules will differ. You’ll be able to smoke a joint on the sidewalk in one city but not the next. In Halifax, you’ll need to seek out a designated toking zone. In Edmonton, find any part of the sidewalk that is not within 10 metres of a bus stop, patio, doorway or window.
“If you’re a person who moves around the country frequently, you’re literally going to need an app that tells you what’s legal and what’s not depending on where you are,” says Ottawa-based cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser. In March, she acquired a trademark for a yet-to-be-developed app, called Canna Do This? But she’s been so busy helping businesses navigate the new regulatory thicket that, come Oct. 17, the app won’t have gotten far past the idea stage."
"Niaz Nejad of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is among a number of people interviewed for this article who likened the challenge to building an aircraft while flying it
. In December, she added “and cannabis” to her job title of chief operating officer and vice-president of gaming. As such, she will soon become one of the legal pot world’s largest distributors, since all Alberta private retail stores must buy from the provincial wholesaler, which she oversees. Nejad has become so knowledgeable on marijuana strains and potencies that her friends joke she could sell on the corner, and she’s met the gamut of cannabis entrepreneurs. Some producers arrive to her boardroom table in businesslike groups of five or six; others come solo with eyes-reddened or glazed, intimidated by the regulator’s seriousness. Rules of workplace decorum aren’t always in force. After a tense price negotiation, one industrial grower Nejad had been dealing with gave her a massive hug as though they’d known each other for decades. “The gaming suppliers don’t typically bear-hug you after you’ve had a difficult negotiation,” she says with a laugh. “They may want to [put you in a] choke-hold.”
"Uncharted though its path is, Alberta is better equipped than most for private cannabis retail. It pioneered privatized liquor sales 25 years ago, and because it has had relatively few illegal cannabis dispensaries—swiftly cracking down on those that popped up—the province starts with a comparatively clean slate. There’s no cap, but the AGLC expects 250 cannabis stores to open in Alberta during the first wave, or 24 times more per capita than in Quebec. Calgary alone has approved permits for 117, more than Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia combined will initially allow.
Cannabis options inside one of NewLeaf’s fully built-out concept retail stores in Calgary.Photo by: Paul White/NewLeaf Cannabis
But confusing Alberta’s coming pot-store proliferation with the Wild West would be like fearing that one toke makes you a squinting dope fiend. A tour of New Leaf Cannabis’s concept store in a west Calgary strip mall lays bare the tight regulations governing retailers. Windows are covered so nobody can see inside, like an adult video store.
There are no large canisters of cannabis on display, only tiny sample smell jars cable-tethered to tables. In fact, all the product arrives at stores in federally mandated packages that look like a cross between cigarette packs and prescription medicine bottles: child-resistant and opaque, with small logos, much larger health warnings and a stop-sign-like red THC label. These unremarkable bud boxes and baggies must be stored in a backroom with steel-reinforced walls and doors. Conveniently, this concept store used to be a bank, so it’s all in a former vault, says chief administrative officer Angus Taylor. Staff will wander the Apple-style sales floor, swiping customers’ payment cards and retrieving purchased product from the locked backroom. But they’ll be banned from answering customers’ queries about pot’s potential medical benefits. All stores are solely for recreational-use marijuana."
"Such confusion may have been inevitable, given that politicians and bureaucrats face the seemingly incompatible tasks of encouraging legal enjoyment of cannabis while simultaneously shielding everyone from its harms. They’ve been pulled in conflicting directions by entrepreneurs, law enforcement, health experts and grumpy seniors who vote, producing contradictions in rules from jurisdiction to jurisdiction that can border on the absurd. Calgary won’t allow pot shops to operate next to liquor stores (other municipalities have required a buffer zone of 100 m between them), while most Nova Scotia stores will be co-located inside provincial liquor outlets. While stores are not allowed to link products to medical advice, Maritime shops will tell customers how strains may make them feel: Nova Scotia stores will categorize varieties as relax, unwind, centre and enhance—while New Brunswick-sold pot will let users discover, connect or refresh. Stores in New Brunswick and Quebec will require ID checks upon entry; others won’t. Alberta’s online sales portal will require age-of-majority verification, while other province-run sales websites will have the simple checkbox method and request proof of age upon delivery. Manitoba and Saskatchewan will let its private brick-and-mortar retailers sell online, as well."
"In Vancouver, most safe bets are that Oct. 17 will look much like all the days before it. The city, which at one point had more unregulated dispensaries than Starbucks coffeehouses, brought in its own civic licensing regime in 2015, before the passage of federal or provincial rules; 19 are licensed, but far more have only partial okay or fall outside regulations. And a business licence doesn’t automatically mean a store will be okay under the new province-led regime: the B.C. government asks a city for its assessment of provincial licence applicants. But in late August, chief licence inspector Kathryn Holm said Vancouver was still sorting out how to choose its winners and losers. There will be added twists, as what the city previously regulated as “medical marijuana-related” businesses transition to the federal government’s recreational-only model. Stores with terms like “medicinal,” “dispensary” and “health” in their names will have to rebrand. Among other requirements, Vancouver had barred its licensees from having any window coverings, to make it harder to conceal illicit activity. But provincial rules now encourage fully covered windows by requiring that no product displays be visible from outside a store."
"Finally, while almost everybody is expecting a complicated and bumpy first few months after legalization, the icing on the cake could literally be icing and cake. By October 2019, Ottawa must have new regulations in place for cannabis edibles, which for now remain banned. Regulators will soon launch consultations about product types, marketing and food-handling issues; stores that launch in the first year will save room to add fridges and shelves. “This is big now—when edibles come, it’s going to be about 10 times the size of dried flowers and oils,” said Alberta’s Nejad.
If the history of alcohol is any guide, it’s reasonable to think conservative regulations and bans will eventually be loosened. Cannabis lounges could eventually be sanctioned. Alternatively, there could be counter-revolutionary moves—Quebec’s opposition leader, François Legault, has pledged that if he wins the fall election, he will boost the cannabis age to 21 from 18. But there will be time, down the road, to ponder future changes. For most Canadians, the ones under way are proving brain-numbing enough."
Entire article: https://www.macleans.ca/society/mari...or-legal-weed/