Canada’s federal government has voted to formally legalize the recreational consumption of cannabis.
In a 52-29 vote on Tuesday night, Canada’s Senate passed the Cannabis Act, securing its passage for Royal Assent.
According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who addressed the House of Commons during question period on Wednesday afternoon, recreational cannabis will be legalized as of October 17th, 2018.
The passage of Bill C-45 makes Canada only one of two countries to formally legalize cannabis. Uruguay legalized the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013.
Trudeau later spoke to press at the National Press Gallery in Ottawa on Wednesday, addressing questions on a variety of subjects, including the legalization of cannabis.
The Prime Minister said that the goal is the “smooth operation of cannabis sales… in an orderly fashion.”
Trudeau also added that Canadian cannabis demand will be met as the country takes “a significant part of the marketshare and we will completely… replace organized crime.”
It’s important to note that Canada’s prohibition on recreational cannabis will continue until October 17th, meaning that the consumption of marijuana for non-medicinal means is still a legal offence.
Additionally, while Bill C-45 clears aspects of the Criminal Code that enforced the prohibition on cannabis, it’s now up to Canada’s provincial and territorial governments to establish their own rules and restrictions on the sale, possession and growth of cannabis.
For instance, the Government of Ontario under Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne previously announced that cannabis would be sold at Ontario Cannabis Stores (OCS).
OCS locations will be under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), itself an arm of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
The LCBO also previously announced that it had finalized a deal with Ottawa-based Shopify to provide the OCRC with a cloud-based platform for online and brick-and-mortar sales.
Shopify’s platform will be used across desktop, mobile and in-store point-of-sales systems.
MobileSyrup has reached out to Shopify for comment on Bill C-45’s passage. This story will be updated with a response.
Cannabis innovators gearing up for October
Alex Blumenstein is the co-founder of Leaf Forward, a Toronto-based accelerator for cannabis startups.
Leaf Forward hosts networking meetups across Canada and a start-up bootcamp in Toronto, and serves as a breeding ground for innovators and entrepreneurs looking to leave their mark on Canada’s cannabis industry.
Blumenstein told MobileSyrup that cannabis companies are mostly focussing on products aimed at cannabis consumption, rather than cannabis production.
“[Delivery] can be anything from new drug delivery methods to software and analytics to interesting new hardware,” said Blumnestein, in a phone call with MobileSyrup.
“Our job right now is to guide investors towards these new opportunities and away from the obvious cultivation opportunities.”
Blumenstein cautioned that Canadian consumers shouldn’t expect any major innovations announced within the first wave of regulation.
“The first wave of legalization, we’re just going to see dry flower products and a small range of cannabis oils,” explained Blumenstein.
He added that consumers should be especially excited about new cannabis consumption methods, like connected vape pens and other cannabis Internet of Things (IoT) devices like IoT growth kits.
As for what happens between now and October 17th, Blumenstein said that “it’s going in a circle” as companies educate consumers, receive consumer feedback, create products based on consumer interest and repeat the cycle.
Source: Associated Press