Marijuana News Roundup: Canada Government Launches Bill to Legalize Marijuana

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Last Thursday, the government of Canada introduced legislation in the country’s parliament that would permit adult use of marijuana. The bill’s introduction fulfills a campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to legalize recreational pot use in the country.

If the law is approved (as expected), Canada becomes only the second country to legalize cannabis. Uruguay fully legalized pot in 2013, but implementation has been slow, largely because the government is maintaining tight control over how marijuana can be marketed and sold.

In Canada, the federal government will regulate growers, but each province will work out its own system for distribution and sales. In addition, the federal government will have to sort out a myriad of related issues such as international drug treaty agreements.

The federal law would make purchase and possession of about an ounce legal for any Canadian over the age of 18. And that’s another bone of contention. A network of drug rehabilitation centers called Portage wants the age for legal purchases to be set at 25. The provinces may set the age higher than 18, but not lower.

The government hopes to have a system operating by summer 2018. Because the country has already legalized marijuana for medical use, licensed growers already exist which should help speed up implementation. The Canadian legislation would also allow non-Canadians to take part in the market without a residency requirement. According to the Financial Post, consultancy Deloitte reckons the industry could be worth CDN$22.6 billion.

That’s not a slam-dunk, however. We noted last week a new study that indicates pricing of legal marijuana, including taxes, could determine whether or not legal marijuana delivers the hoped-for tax revenues that all governments expect.

Wine Industry Finds a Companion in a Competitor: Marijuana
Legal intoxication is big business and getting bigger. More states have legalized marijuana, leading some in the alcohol industry to regard it as a threat to their profit margin.

Those concerns are warranted in some cases. In Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where recreational use has been legal for several years, beer sales are down, mostly among mass-market brews. The liquor industry opposed several marijuana legalization initiatives last year and has expressed fears for its bottom line.

The fine wine industry, however, has not panicked. Despite occasional efforts to pit wine and weed against each other, people in the wine business exude an air of mellow acceptance that the two substances can coexist in harmony.

“People are trying to say there is a threat, but I really haven’t talked to any wine industry person yet who actually sees it that way,” said Tina Caputo, a freelance wine and food writer, who in August will be a moderator at the first Wine & Weed Symposium. The event, a wine industry initiative, will explore possible business opportunities in California, which legalized recreational marijuana use in November.

Read more at The New York Times.