Cannabis industry experts in Canada are saying that provinces will more than likely not be ready for retail sales come legalization day. Instead, Canadians may only be able to buy their legal weed online and have it shipped or mailed to their place of residence.
Trina Fraser is a lawyer who specializes in cannabis business law, she recently outlined the significant regulatory work that still needs to be accomplished before stores can stock marijuana and its related products. “There’s an impression by the public that we’ll just flip a switch, and suddenly all these products that were previously illegal are going to be legal,” said Fraser.
Fraser corroborated this statement by alluding to the tight timeline that already exists in Parliament, just to legalize in the first place. Bill C-45 has passed its second reading and will now be examined by the Standing Committee on Health this coming fall.
The bill must pass both the House and Senate before provinces can finalize their own rules around distribution, retail, age limits, and various other details.
“To say that in the course of eight or nine months, [the provinces] are going to introduce and pass legislation, and regulations, and implement an entirely new industry that doesn’t exist today, I just don’t see how that will happen,” said Fraser.
Fraser and other industry insiders believe that online sales will be easier to implement right away because medical cannabis growers are already selling their products within that system.
Internet-based cannabis sales were something Prime Minister Trudeau also stated would be available if any province was not ready, or even unwilling, to set up some sort of retail distribution method on the ground.
“If they decide they don’t want to bring legislation forward, we will make [marijuana]available through a federal system, probably on the internet,” the Prime Minister told VICE News. “Our system will be accessible for all who do not have a system in their province.”
Vic Neufeld is the CEO of Ontario-based licensed producer (LP) Aphria; Neufeld agrees with his industry colleagues. “This journey, with three levels of government, is so complex, and there is no template they can steal from. They have to start from scratch,” he said. Neufeld predicts that the rollout of retail stores will happen gradually over time.
The Standing Committee on Health passed a motion last week to begin discussing Bill C-45 the week of September 11-15, one week before the House returns from summer break.
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