MONTREAL – Canada became the first major global economy to legalize the consumption of marijuana on Wednesday and launched a national experiment that will transform the country's social, cultural and economic fabric and present the nation's biggest public policy challenge in decades. 19659002] Newfoundlanders became the first Canadians to smoke legally when traders arrived at midnight in the country's easternmost province.
In the rest of the country, government-owned stores are preparing to welcome consumers. You can choose between pre-rolled joints, fresh or dried cannabis flowers, and cannabis oil, all of which are allowed under the new federal law.
The government is due Wednesday to announce that there are Canadians convicted of possessing infants who more easily drop amounts of marijuana "To get a pardon," said a government official familiar with the plan, who confirmed it but was not allowed to speak publicly about it.
"The fact that we are moving away from a prohibition model is a victory for human rights and social justice, an economic stroke of luck for the Canadian economy and a sign of social progress, "said Adam Greenblatt director of Canopy Growth, a producer estimated at more than $ 10 billion  Others were more cautious.
"The legalization of cannabis is the biggest political change this one s country has experienced in the last five decades, "said Mike Farnworth British Columbia Minister of Public Security
" It's an octopus with many tentacles, "he added," and there are many unknowns , I do not believe that when the federal government decided to legalize marijuana, it thought through all the consequences. "
In a stabbing editorial, which was released on Monday, the Canadian Medical Association Journal called on The government's legalization plan provides for an" uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues against health
It called on the government to amend the law if it leads to increased cannabis use.
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But the so-called "green rush" is already in full swing as licensed cannabis breeders have been rushing for months to gain a foothold in what is. It is expected to become a $ 5 billion industry by 2020 ($ 6 billion) , 5 billion Canadian dollars), supported by the expected arrival of thousands of potential tourists across the border in the United States.
When Justin Trudeau ran for the prime minister three years ago, recreational marijuana was one of his electoral promises. Canadians are largely in favor of the legalization of cannabis, reflecting a progressive liberal country in which the use of the previously illicit drug was commonplace.
Canada is the second largest country in the world after Uruguay to legalize it.
According to Statistics Canada, 4.9 million Canadians consumed cannabis last year and consumed more than 20 grams of marijuana per person, spending $ 5.6 billion
Bernard Le Foll, addiction specialist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, a leading teaching hospital and research organization, said that although the center supported legalization, he feared that public disclosure of risk information was inadequate
"Cannabis is not a benign substance," he said. "There is a clear risk of addiction, and it can cause significant mental health problems when used by the wrong kind of people."
He added, "It took decades for the public to understand the risks of cigarettes and the legalization of cigarettes. Cannabis did not take place until a few years later."
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The federal government has left the 13 provinces and territories of the country to implement the new laws and set their own rules Patchwork of regulations. One of the many unanswered questions is how the police are testing drivers who may be tall, and how employers handle smoking employees before they get to work.
According to Canada's new federal cannabis law, adults are allowed to own, carry, and share adults with up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, enough to roll about 60 normal-sized joints. A maximum of four homegrown marijuana plants per household are also authorized.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, and about 330,000 Canadians, including cancer patients, are registered to receive it from licensed manufacturers  Edible cannabis – such as Pot-Infused Jelly Beans, Peanut Butter and Coffee – is sold not be legal for another year.
On Tuesday, on a commercial street in the eastern end of Montreal, a new government marijuana dealer, with the look of a modern pharmacy, was ready for masses. The infertility of the store seemed to lead to bad luck, almost like the purchase of cough syrup.
Following searches by unarmed security guards near the entrance to ensure that they reach Quebec's 18-year-old age for cannabis use (19 in most cases) in other provinces), consumers can surf near flat-screens that are 180 List products such as Pink Kush, a dried cannabis flower that sells for about $ 95, or $ 122.90 for 15 grams.
In order to preserve prices Compared to the black market, one gram of cannabis can be bought for about $ 4 or 5.25 Canadian dollars.
Inside the shop, wooden shelves of cannabis products were stacked in boxes and containers, divided into three sections: Indica Sativa and Hybrid.
Big big bold signs explained that Sativa might give the impression of being "uplifted and mentally stimulated," while Indica "gives the impression of a rel crossed out and sleep-induced state."
On the opening day, participants in green aprons account for various Weed flavors – lemon, skunk, and diesel – as well as the intensity of THC in any product that causes the associated psychotropic effects cannabis
As with cigarettes, cannabis is clearly labeled with health warnings, such as "one in ten people who consume cannabis, gets addicted. "
The stated rationale for the legalization of cannabis is to tame an illicit trade at $ 6.2 billion. But from Toronto to Winnipeg to Vancouver, hundreds of illegal businesses have indicated that they have no intention of closing the factory, and the black market supply chain remains deeply rooted. [Chief Police] Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department also the president of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs warned this week that the defusing of the black market would take years. In a time of limited resources, he said, monitoring marijuana would not suddenly become a major concern of law enforcement agencies.
"Fentanyl kills 11 Canadians daily," he said, referring to the mighty synthetic opioid, which in some represents a public health scourge cities like Vancouver. Marijuana not.
He added, "I do not expect much on the first day."
One of the biggest concerns among law enforcement officials and public safety is the risk of more people driving as long as they are high
Under the new law, those who are stoned must pay a fine of at least 1,000 Canadian dollars and accept up to five years imprisonment for non-violent or fatal cases. Constable Palmer emphasized that roadside sobriety tests would remain rigorous and that the number of officers trained for such tests would rise from 13,000 to 20,000 over the next few years.
Police forces across the country are split over the reliability of roadside saliva tests for THC
Some health authorities warned that legalization threatened to cause public health problems if public awareness about risks did not intensify.
Jean-Sébastien Fallu, associate professor of applied psychology and specialist in addiction at the Université de Montréal, said he feared that the new legalization would limit what could be consumed and drive consumers further underground could drift.
He also warned that the commercialization of cannabis "banalizes" the risks of consumption and creates peer pressure among the weaker
"We do not want young people to feel stigmatized, for example, if they are not using cannabis, and, As we have seen with alcohol, there can be a lot of social pressure, "Fallu said.
" Once the profit motive becomes the main imperative," he added, "and big business lobbying is firmly anchored, we are worried that public health and safety will be sacrificed."
Many, Those who pressed for the new law anticipated the day as a moment of jubilation. But in Vancouver, protesters who had not yet achieved legalization wanted to demonstrate in front of the Parliament in Victoria on Wednesday and give black-market joints away.
Others pleaded defiantly to smoke in dozens of illegal marijuana pharmacies
"People do not want to buy government-approved joints," said Jodie Emery, a leading cannabis activist in Vancouver. "Legalization is little more than whitewashing cannabis culture." Follow
Dan Bilefsky on Twitter: @DanBilefsky
Ian Austen contributed reports from Ottawa.