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Canada’s legal pot is going well (reuters.com)
147 points by forkLding 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments





This doesn't echo public sentiment at all. Many are critical of the way implementation has happened, whether for or against (at least in Ontario, the most populous province and the one I base everything that follows on).

Those who are 'for' are upset about the supply issues that have occurred with the legal supply being limited (long delays), more expensive and often poor quality (moldy).

Those who are indifferent are annoyed they have not offered any incentive to municipalities to allow stores (no share of taxes, no increase to enforcement budgets, no ability to control, limit or place restrictions on store locations) and made prices high making thus causing no reduction of the black market.

Those who are 'against' think private businesses selling weed will increase sale to minors and just generally make a bunch of moral panic arguments.


I suspect this is some form of reverse survivor bias: the people who are happy with the service (like me) are not out on the streets cheering. It's fantastic, it's just not something that we talk about due to the stigma.

I smoked exceedingly rarely before legalization (3 times in my entire life) and now I smoke often. I'm happy to pay the paltry prices for the amount of enjoyment I get from it, and I know that the weed I get is safe for me to consume. It also arrives in a day or two after ordering. Most times I'm surprised it came so quick!

I'm in Ontario.


> I smoked exceedingly rarely before legalization (3 times in my entire life) and now I smoke often.

You are the boogeyman to the people who oppose legalisation. One of the rare people who didn't smoke simply to obey the law and are now getting stoned because it's legal. :P

I think the people who rarely smoked are the most happy, because they are not worried about a minor price increase but also appreciate the convenience and legal acceptance.

I am personally happy with legalisation and, as someone who no longer smokes but realises the relative lack of harm from consuming cannabis (especially as compared to alcohol), think it is the morally right thing to do.

Despite my own beliefs, public opposition to the rollout is still significant and definitely worth mentioning especially in a Reuters article that will be propagated everywhere.


> You are the boogeyman to the people who oppose legalisation. One of the rare people who didn't smoke simply to obey the law and are now getting stoned because it's legal. :P

As a pre- and post-legalization smoker, I always thought this was a naive view. Having to deal with a sketchy flaky street dealer (not to mention finding one to begin with) is absolutely going to turn a lot of people off of smoking. And speaking from experience, waiting on an empty street corner for 20-30 minutes for your dealer to show up (because he's always late) gives you a lot of time to introspect and question your choices...

It is really nothing like walking into a clean retail store with regular business hours, display cases, and pretty young cashiers. The street dealer situation makes you feel like a lowlife piece of shit who has a lot of growing up to do; the legal retail situation makes you feel like a yuppie walking into an Apple Store. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this new option led to 2 or 3 times as many people smoking. And to me, that's completely fine (really, good for me since it makes it more socially acceptable).

I think the smokers who believed that legalization didn't offer a more appealing purchasing option for a ton of people must be the 24/7 stoners who only have other 24/7 stoners as friends and can't imagine not having immediate access to weed.


> One of the rare people

We have no idea of the prevalance of this kind of person. There's no research.

(I am in favour of legalisation.)


I wonder how much data there is from countries where it has been legal for a long time, like the Netherlands. When I grew up it was as normal as normal smoking and drinking. Mushrooms were(and are, but they banned some of them I think) also legal but that was not very normal to use, at least not in my circles. All my friends and many of their parents smoked a spliff or 2 in the weekend. Same as they drank some beers. But only the illegal stuff (at that time xtc, speed, heroine and cocaine) was used to excesses that caused issues. I don't think they ever legalized those, but non-dealers were not arrested and the police checked the quality of drugs at parties to filter out bad stuff; when that started happening, the abuse went down too. My crazy house friends (usually converts from metal to house at the beginning of the 90s) went from dangerous abuse to more controlled and moderate use now that it was 'normal'.

So yes, that's all anecdotal, but at least in my circles I have seen over the past 30 years that (semi)legalizing indeed helps a lot; because there is a 40-50 year trackrecord in countries like NL, there must be someone who researched it and has data about the actual effects of legalization and 'gedoog' (semi-legalization) strategies?


Toleration/decriminalisation and harm reduction policies are really important, to give you a parallel: look here at Sweden [0] that despite being really socially progressive in regards to gender and social equality still has some of the most strict drug policies in the developed world. It's not only illegal to trade drugs but also to consume them, if you are caught, for example, during a raid on a rave by the police and they test you for drugs you will get fined and can go to court for it (being imprisoned isn't happening though). You will still have a record for about 5 years even though you had no drugs in your possession. Also, needle exchange programs are fucked up as there is not national policy, it's left to the kommuner and so these programs vary wildly between cities, addicts die because of this paralysis of the system.

Portugal is the most common example of how harm reduction policies help to decrease mortality and usage, a better informed population where drugs aren't taboo makes their usage be lower and more responsible.

I have some Dutch friends, most don't really smoke weed as often, usually on a special occasion. Harder drugs usage is also more responsible, most of them test their drugs before consuming, don't overdo it. Openness and information invites responsibility.

[0] https://i.imgur.com/bqfprnj.png


May I suggest 'non-enforcement' as a better translation of 'gedogen'?

"Decriminalisation" is the usual term in English for the Netherlands legal policy on cannabis.

Maybe "tolerated", that's what the analouge Word in German means.

It's honestly hard to believe there were people who didn't smoke simply because it was illegal, even though getting charged for personal amounts of cannabis in the GTA was about as common as being struck by lightning.

That said I applaud them. That's a very respectable level of restraint and community-mindedness (I swear that's a word).


It's honestly hard to believe there were people who didn't smoke simply because it was illegal

That was me. Although not because I was afraid of getting caught, but simply because the effort and logistics of attempting to get ahold of a consistent supply of quality weed without getting ripped off was not worth it.


The statistical reality isn’t operational for many people. Many people would not want to even begin to look for an underground supplier let alone deal with one.

(I am in favour of legalisation.)


I see you appreciate the weasel word 'many' as much as I do. It's very handy to avoid having to cite every statement (lol).

You're totally right that those people exist and there are 'many' of them. I'm going off conversations that have occurred and caused certain cities, especially in the Peel and Halton regions, to ban stores.

Honestly the real number of people who feel a type of way about legalisation doesn't even matter that much, especially when decisions like this are up to already elected representatives and not handled by referendum. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and this is a fundamental issue with the implementation of democracy in the west. For issues that most people don't consider a hill to die on (or, at least, both sides) elected representatives don't end up voting in line with actual public opinion. A prime example of this fact is that legalization only happened in 2018 and not 20 years earlier.


I would've liked to try some drugs, weed included, but I haven't because I don't have contacts and I don't want to deal with some lowlife who will probably scam me. If they made weed legal I would probably give it a spin, and maybe even get hooked, much to my own loss since I, as many other people, lack self-control.

(I am against legalisation; I don't live in Canada.)


Would you also vote to ban fast food, video games, social media, and Netflix?

Your lack of self control should never usurp my freedom.

> It's honestly hard to believe there were people who didn't smoke simply because it was illegal

For me it is completely easy to believe. Cannabis is not addictive enough for me to go to the trouble of getting it illegally.


> It's honestly hard to believe there were people who didn't smoke simply because it was illegal

Yep, I agree.

But we need to talk not just about what happens today, but what happens in the future. If cannabis is normalised and legally available will that increase the use of cannabis?


>If cannabis is normalised and legally available will that increase the use of cannabis?

I think use of cannabis will increase in Canada after legalisation and I doubt anybody will disagree or project a decrease. I think a bigger question is whether public opinion will continue to trend favourably in light of current medical knowledge which seems to think that cannabis causes less harm than alcohol thus making it a better way to waste time and/or ease general existential angst on the weekends.

While I don't think more people getting stoned is necessarily 'win' for Canadian society, I think if it diverts them from other more harmful forms of impairment (alcohol or 'hard' drugs) it probably is.


To your first point, I am really curious to see what we will discover once it is widely available.

Up until now it was mostly conjectures, and very biased observations only (not only because of preconceptions, but also because the smoking population was so fringe). Even if it ends up there’s tons of unpredicted critically bad side effects, at least we’ll be out of the boogyeman phase and will have solid evidence of what’s good and wvat’s bad.


And this is exactly why widespread legalization is a bad idea.

Take really care about that dude. Just like few drinks here and there, few cigarettes once in a while or even pain medication when you really need are not dangerous, continuous use just because "It's easy to get and it feels good" have major long term impact on you health.


None of the other things you listed are illegal? Anyway, something being bad in excess doesn't mean it should be illegal in moderation.

I would argue its too early to tell that things are going bad, the Cannabis Act was put in place on October 17th which is only 6 months ago.

Moreover, most retail stores in Ontario were given very short notice (~2-4 months) to build the stores and open up on April 1st couple weeks ago. I would say in a year or two, we would have likely forgotten about all this and will be having normal and regular deliveries via Canada Post like any other product.

https://www.thestar.com/news/cannabis/2019/03/18/will-ontari...


I'd say it's way too early for Ontario reactions seeing as how no stores (or enough to count on one hand) are open.

I don’t really have any complaints about how they implemented it here in Ontario. It’s far better than what the previous government had planned.

Granted, I don’t smoke that often - but I’ve been to one of the stores and ordered from OCS online and have nothing negative to say. Maybe I just had low expectations?


Public perception may start to change now that retail has opened up (of the 'pro' people at least) but I have heard a lot of complaints. Even OCS has acknowledged massive supply issues following the rollout (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/canada-is-running-out-of-l...).

Where those who oppose or are on the fence form a majority (or at least a vocal one) municipalities have banned stores for now. I expect once the province smartens up and gives municipalities the ability to control proximity to schools, parks, churches and other places the law expects children to congregate (or gives up some of that sweet tax money) the people who are on the fence will lighten up.

The Chinese community in the GTA is a great advocate, and cause, of municipalities banning stores. They form a large and vocal bloc and for whatever reason seem to view cannabis as a hard drug and oppose any form of decriminalisation or legalisation.


"It’s far better than what the previous government had planned."

I disagree. Sure, a free market is better than a government monopoly, but marijuana isn't anywhere close to a free market. It's highly regulated and highly constrained. Only 25 stores were allowed to open province wide in one of the biggest giveaways to the private sector ever. Those licenses are probably worth hundreds of millions of dollars each and Ford just gave them away to lucky lottery winners. And of course he's going to protect them -- no city is going to allow the Mac's milk shop on every corner to start selling pot so those lottery winners are just going to print money for themselves, and lobby for their own interests, not ours.

Better a government monopoly with profits going to the taxpayer than a private sector oligopoly.


There is a concerted campaign going on online right now to paint legal weed as a massive failure, so the current Canadian government cant count it as an achievement.

Hasn't been perfect of course, but its far from the disaster certain groups are trying to paint it as.


There are many groups who don't just try to paint it as a failure, they strongly believe it is one. No disinformation campaign needed, they just speak their firmly held beliefs and real perceptions.

Most of the actual failures fall on the provincial governments in my view. I think cannabis legalisation will probably be one of the few positive achievements history sees from the Trudeau administration although I hope I'm wrong.


Yeah, my mind initially read the title as 'legal pot isn't going well for Canada', then I realized what it actually said and was confused. The physical storefronts in Ontario have been a mess, with some areas, like Ottawa getting 3 stores, with most of Ontario not having anything and a lot of people don't want to buy online. Though I don't really think it's a big deal at this point, it's new and going through lots of bumps now, but overtime will work itself out.

I don't smoke anymore so I mostly rely on second-hand accounts. I'm of the same mind though, anything the government does has bumps, it's still progress.

The Ontario provincial government is a walking disaster, and their implementation of marijuana legalization is just a reflection of that. The rollout went smoothly in other provinces.

Despite my general negative feelings toward the Ford government, their privatisation of stores was the right move. Unfortunately, it came far too late (the previous Wynne government opted for government-run stores, both retail and online, before the Ford government was elected four months prior to legalisation) and ended up giving everyone too little time to handle it gracefully.

I have heard that the roll-out went very well in Alberta, although they also have a very lax approach to alcohol sales unlike Ontario.


I think the supply bottle-neck is the reason. All the pot has to come from a few hand-picked suppliers. Also there are claimed Liberal ties to pot production. Some quick links (although I suggest taking this with a grain of salt given the source):

https://potfacts.ca/the-liberal-party-elite-is-heavily-inves...

https://ottawasun.com/2015/10/28/liberal-cfo-could-rake-in-m...

I haven't heard any moral outrage arguments in the press or otherwise. Remember that this isn't only a youth issue or it wouldn't be used in a federal campaign promise. It is, by definition, widely supported. Recall that people well into their 60s and 70s came of age smoking pot.

IMHO there's much more moral outrage associated with the Conservative plan to reduce drinking restrictions. Ontario remains a pretty uptight place.


There are complains but its generally going fine. Supply issues will be worked out.

Absolutely every public offering has these same groups of critics. It's simply not a useful signal for whether things are going well or not.

FWIW that pretty much described Colorado at first. The supply needed time to come online & stabilize, and then the pros were happy, prices came down, and the against group saw minors didn't really have more access and stopped complaining.

I want to say it took about 18 months.


Legal pot is not going good anywhere around the world except very few places like Colorado. This is because politicians insist on not paying attention to scientific studies and keep doing irrational things. Look at Massachusetts, one of the first states to legalize cannabis, still handful of legal shops, only 1 in Boston area. What changed is now a few mega corps (US) or the government (Canada) are your drug dealers, instead of sketchy randos. It's impossible to find a thriving free cannabis market. This is absolutely ridiculous. >70% of Americans support legalization and multiple states voted for legalization but it's still impossible to thrive as a mom&pop cannabis shop. When alcohol and coffee are so normalized that people can consume these drugs even in workplaces, it's simply ridiculous how we treat weed, quite possibly a safer drug. I'm not even talking about illegal states, because that's an entirely different story. But what's going on in legal states like MA et al is bizarre.

>or the government (Canada) are your drug dealer

The Canadian federal government does not sell cannabis. Some of the provincial governments do but not all. Many (I love that word) provinces, including Ontario, allow the private sector to sell cannabis with the correct license.

>When alcohol and coffee are so normalized that people can consume these drugs even in workplaces, it's simply ridiculous how we treat weed, quite possibly a safer drug

There are very few workplaces in Canada where drinking on the job would be accepted. Between cannabis and alcohol, cannabis is probably more acceptable. Caffeine definitely causes a lesser level of impairment than either cannabis or alcohol and is not really comparable. A workplace doesn't really care about the level of medical harms caused by a drug, just the level of impairment, which is why 'nobody' (disclaimer: I'm sure a statistically insignificant number of people do) gets fired for taking a smoke break (off company time of course).

Keep in mind that cannabis is technically illegal across the US, the US federal government just chooses not to enforce the law in renegade states for the most part. The Canadian and American situations are not comparable.


Maybe Nicotine rather than Alcohol would have been better for his point.

But I'd still trust Joe to drive the forklift after a cup of coffee and cigarette than a drink and a doob.


Personally I would consider caffeine more impairing than nicotine but I don't think either are a big concern as far as impairment goes. Impairment on those substances is probably best handled in law with the same general, hand-wavey subsections as drinking too much water or eating too much Taco Bell.

Aren't stimulants the opposite of impairing? :shrugs:

Would you not consider someone high on meth intoxicated? I think stimulants are clearly intoxicating too. Culturally, we're comfortable people doing their jobs right high on caffeine but unless you make a scientific study you cannot know whether that's the case. It's possible caffeine slightly impairs your ability use a vehicle, or maybe enhances it, or maybe it has no effect.

Washington seems like a functional market in my personal experience.

oregon as well - it seemed to burgeon after the legislature stepped in.

Yes. My experience in the west side of Oregon is that there are stores everywhere, though I know that isn't true in smaller rural communities. Prices have come down considerably since the stores first opened. I've watched the sign out front of one store I drive past frequently go from $7 per gram, to $5 per gram, now at $3 per gram, and I expect it to continue downward.

there are portions of rural oregon that have been continually sued to reverse the laws, and there is a list of parts of oregon that have disallowed sale: https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/documents/cities_count...

for the most part, those are rural communities - i suspect there would be shops there if they were allowed.


This shit is known for thousands years. We have enough experience with it to judge.

Long time coffee and cannabis user here, I'm curious in what ways you'd say cannabis is safer than coffee?

Well, if you spill hot coffee on you it can hurt a bit.

I once put a lit joint in my pocket for safekeeping, and burned a hole in my wallet.

They're both very safe but we have a lot evidence suggesting THC and CBD have tons of medical benefits. I'm not aware of any medical benefits of caffeine. I do know that some NSAIDs include caffeine to combat fatigue, but that's about it. Also have you ever got addicted to caffeine? It's a bitch to stop drinking, you get headaches like someone's hammering your skull. While it's possible to get physically addicted to THC, it's much harder than getting addicted to caffeine.

One should also mention that weed is by no means 100% safe. I myself was once hospitalized due to a panic attack caused by too much weed. But compared to other "normal" drugs like nicotine, alcohol, caffeine etc weed is among safest.


As a consumer of cannabis for several decades prior to legalization, it has indeed gone very well. I am in Ontario and my first legal online order took 3 weeks, but delivery is now typically 2-3 days.

Brick and mortar just recently launched in this province, it was rushed and isnt in good shape. Other provinces are faring better in this regard.

The product selection is large, but in stock inventory of lower-priced products especially tends to be lacking. Some clearly over-priced products are trying to be the "Apple of weed" and failing, the market should sort that out.

An unexpected challenge of legalization is that new users can get overwhelmed by choice. Our government has unfortunately repeated the old indica=sleepy, sativa=energetic nonsense in the official literature despite advances in the science showing that while these distinctions are great to seperate plant types they distinguish between effects poorly.

I have been working on a project [1] that attempts to index the scientific literature and provide a better, evidence-based path towards cultivar selections. Every endocannabinoid system is different so this will never be totally correct, but it can at least trim down the options for new users.

[1] https://www.whatsmypot.com


> delivery is now typically 2-3 days

I hear you can often get next day delivery when ordering from the darknet, and it's been that way for years.


Yes absolutely, the launch of brick and mortar was supposed to satisfy the "want some right now" crowd but high prices have turned a lot of folks off.

Weedmaps is the defacto "local" black market source in my area, I can have product in hand within 2 hours from a selection of dealers.

Sellers post their "menus" on the app and leave a phone number or email. Responses are quick. Delivery is $10-15 usually.

Most will verify you are 19+ when they drop it off, as selling drugs to minors has historically had stiffer penalties then selling to adults. The laws have all changed now and the first person was just charged with possession under the new laws last week.


Here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, we’ve had publicly run cannabis stores since October 1, 2018 and things have been going quite well. Initially there were massive supply shortages, but those have evened out. The remaining complaint is that there aren’t enough brick-and-mortar stores in more rural areas of the province (because only select government run liquor stores can sell cannabis), but online sales make this less of an issue. The whole thing turned from being a spectacle to being quite normal very quickly.

Canadian here, if by well you might massive supply shortage and low quality product, then yeah it's doing well.

In Saskatchewan there were supply shortages at the start, but that took care of itself by around new years. Quality- and price-wise... I've heard a lot of people complain about that, but it very much has not matched my experience. Yes, an 1/8oz costs more than it did when I was in high school 20 years ago, but the quality has been fantastic.

I mentally compare it to alcohol. A "couple beer" buzz costs me about $1.50, and I feel wonderful the next day. And at the rate I use it, the $50 bag (1/8oz) has lasted since about November and isn't empty yet.


> Long lines formed on a sub-zero morning last week to buy marijuana over the counter from three different shops in Ottawa, the first capital in the industrialized world to open them.

Ah yes, Netherlands: a land of barbarians, murder and rampant disentery. Not a single industry in sight.


In fairness, the Netherlands does not have legal cannabis. It just has deliberately lax enforcement.

"Illegal but regulated", "Illegal but tolerated". Really, when such things have been formalized, it's just really, legal — at a less symbolic level than a proper law maybe, and with limitations for sure, but arguing otherwise is nitpicking.

> Ah yes, Netherlands: a land of barbarians, murder and rampant disentery. Not a single industry in sight.

Netherlands were the first in the industrialized world to tolerate it, and that demonstrated a lot of courage given the general attitudes at the time. Their example paved the way forward to today, when Canada is the first country in the industrialized world to give cannabis legal status.

Legalization of cannabis is the drug policy equivalent of marriage equality in social policy (which in Canada is also the law of the land).


I think it was poorly implemented, having government controlled stores means less competition, less actors in the market leading to bad quality, short supply and high prices ... And a still thriving black market.

It varies province to province. Ontario finally opened private stores April 1st, but it's slow to start up- "Hunny Pot" is the only one I've heard of in Toronto and it has a line up three blocks long from open to close.

But more stores will open. And gradually, the black market should shrink. We'll see. I'm just glad we aren't wasting tax dollars trying to enforce prohibition anymore.


Its only been a year and already it's hard to believe there was a time when people were arrested and went to jail over this. (I live in Vancouver)

The Candian Government is getting a cut of a large market and will be using additional tax revenue to improve the quality of life in Canada. It is no different than how cigarette and alcohol are being sold today.

In Ontario at least sales of alcohol and tobacco are very different from how cannabis is sold. Somebody not familiar with the country might say "well Dylan, that's Ontario, what about the other 12 provinces and territories?" but Ontario is over a third of the population so really it is the best one to use as an example instead of discussing the other 12 jurisdictions.

The federal government gets a quarter of the cannabis tax revenues (the remaining three quarters go to the province) capped at one hundred million with any overage going solely to the province so it really is a drop in the bucket at far as the fed is concerned.


No, it's not, which is largely the fault of moron doctors and the government who are idiotically conducting a campaign against vaporization.

The primary health risk of cigarette smoking comes from the products of incomplete hydrocarbon combustion. These cause inflammation (leading to chronic lung disease) and many are carcinogenic.

An intelligent realist understands that most people are ignorant and prone to addictive behaviors, and will intervene where possible to substitute a lower-risk behaviour for a higher-risk one.

Instead, stupid doctors have refocussed their (otherwise appropriate) campaign against smoking on vaporization, and the government has moronically banned it in all the same places as smoking.

This stupidity has spilled over into marijuana legalization, causing vaporization liquids to remain illegal and denying users access to a relatively safe, measured, convenient dosage format with a long shelf life.

Patients taking marijuana for medical reasons are thereby screwed.

I despise stupid people making decisions in large groups. What a clusterfuck.


No it isn't. Weed went from a thriving grey market to a black market.

What changed is the government is now acting as a cartel for a very small number of companies who are allowed to sell legally. The legal companies are not meeting demand in any way comparable to pre-legalization. Prior to legalization we had a thriving free market the government wasn't getting a cut so there was no incentive for the laws on the books to be enforced. Now there is. The government makes money from weed sales so they have incentive to use force against those who are meeting the needs of the market.

Nothing got safer for the public. Its just now very risky to sell weed. Screw everything about how the government legalized weed in Canada. Its exactly as it was before except now the big companies have the RCMP as their enforcers to use against their competition.


> What changed is the government is now acting as a cartel for a very small number of companies who are allowed to sell legally.

What's unfortunate in theory, and funny in practice, is that "cannabis clinics" are essentially public on-boarding centres for this entrapment. The people working there aren't any more knowledgeable than a google search and take advantage of people naively thinking this "Medical Marijuana License" is anything other than a permit to get scammed by licensed producers (or cartel members, in this case). A part of the consultation is being taught how to buy from these LPs online as if one has never used amazon.com -- pretty funny to experience while playing dumb.


The alleyway deals are probably easier but less common. It is risky to open a storefront but always was.

I think we'll see the market shift to delivery in BC. Storefronts are getting heavily targeted now.

Listen to what I'm saying.

The entire province of BC had just one single cannabis storefront on day of legalization - despite hundreds of storefronts applying for permits. So customers went from buying weed in storefronts to having to do alleyway deals because of legalization.

https://vancouversun.com/cannabis/cannabis-news/partaking-so...


Errr? Doesn’t match my experience. I was in BC 3 months before legalisation, and 3 months after.

Nothing changed on the “legal” date.

But I did hear from one store that they were planning to close down, so they could legally apply for a licence and re-open. So the transition wasn’t as smooth as it could have been.

But no one started doing alley way deals “because legalisation”. There was already a large population who simply saw the stores as middle men, who marked up prices. Why buy from a store when you know who the store buys from? And why shouldn’t that continue?

I can buy from the brewery or the liquor store, why should marijuana be any different?




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