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The Legal Cannabis Experiment Begins: The Canada Letter



It's probably no coincidence that the first legal marijuana sale was landed on a weekday. Canada's big new social and legal move was reached by midnight clusters at marijuana stores in St. John's, a concert in Halifax (where security officials partied partygoers) and a countdown party in Toronto. But for most Canadians today is a different working day than a time to get high and celebrate.

Yet, this is a moment when much of the world is watching Canada. I started being interviewed by broadcasters in the United States and the UK this morning. What some call Canada's big experiment can, if it succeeds, serve as a template for other countries. If Canada stumbles, legalization becomes a warning.

This week we began to examine the social, economic, and legal consequences of the Government Plan that we have put together in this bonus issue of the Canada Letter.

Today, Dan Bilefsky directs our coverage of Montreal, where he visits provincial pot shops. Dan, along with Canadian office manager Catherine Porter and me, will continue the story. Canada makes marijuana legal and a national experiment begins ]

] While Canada is the first major industrial nation to take on this challenge, several states have in the United States already legalizes marijuana, although it is still banned under federal law. Thomas Fuller, head of the San Francisco Times office, found that after 10 months of legalization in California, the black market still ruled.

[Read: What Canada Can Learn From California on Marijuana Legalization ]

How many things in Canada that legal marijuana actually entails depends on where you live. Montrealers can now go through deals at cannabis stores run by Quebec's liqueur board. But the only legal option for people in Ontario is online shopping

Since Canada's medical marijuana industry expanded dramatically in 2013, I've written about people hoping to make money with marijuana. At that time, the big banks would not negotiate with many of their companies, and some of them seemed on the verge of bankruptcy.


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