17 Oct Happy Canadian Legalization Day!
It’s a historic day in Canada, where retailers are making their first recreational pot sales. Last night, enthusiastic shoppers lined up outside a dispensary in Newfoundland, where the first legal sales could begin at midnight local time. Drivers honked as they passed the crowd, shouting “Happy Cannabis!”
Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational pot. (The first was Uruguay in 2013.) One resident of Newfoundland capital St. John’s was determined to make history as the first person in the country to purchase recreational pot. Around 8 PM local time last night, Ian Power got in line outside a soon-to-open dispensary, along with fellow local Nikki Rose.
Newfoundland’s time zone is a half hour ahead of the rest of Canada, so at the stroke of midnight, Power became the first person to purchase non-medical pot — legally — in Canada.
“A lot of things first happen on the mainland,” Power told the gaggle of reporters who had gathered at upscale dispensary Tweed to capture the moment. “But to have it happen in St. John’s? That’s epic.”
Power has no intention of smoking the gram he gleefully purchased with a credit card last night.
“I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m not even going to smoke it. I’m just going to save it forever.”
To manage the crowds of exuberant Canadians, Tweed’s staff had set up a velvet rope and green carpet, to help people form an orderly line outside their front doors. But this morning, half an hour before the store was set to re-open, the scene was notably dull. The green carpet was vacant.
“They’re set up to corral people, but nobody has shown up,” explains this puzzled reporter at Canada’s CBC News channel. Everyone in St. John’s who was really excited about legal pot must have already come by, he reasoned, to ring in the festive moment at midnight.
But the real buzz is just getting started. Late last night, a few hours before the first sales began, an anonymous Canadian official told news outlets that the country intended to pardon pot convictions, for those whose crimes involved 30 grams of pot or less. (Thirty grams is the amount adults aged 18 and over are now allowed to possess.)
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially announced the new policy, which he hopes will be particularly helpful for minorities, who were disproportionally affected by prohibition.
Canada is now the world’s largest legal marijuana marketplace. Some experts predict supply shortages and growing pains as legalization gets underway.
But for people like Ian Power, the dream is already coming true.
“We did it,” he said. “Cannabis is legal in Canada and everyone should come to Canada and enjoy our cannabis.”