How borders matter to cannabis legalization
Alex Antoneshyn, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, October 10, 2018 5:12PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 10, 2018 8:42PM MDT
In this third installment of a five-part series, CTV Edmonton’s Bill Fortier examines the legislation that will rule marijuana use inside Canadian borders—and how legalization could impact international travel.
In exactly one week, it will be legal for Canadians to buy and possess:
- Up to 30 grams of dried cannabis
- 150 grams of fresh marijuana
- 450 grams of edible product
- 2,100 grams of liquid product
- 7.5 grams of solid or liquid concentrates
- 30 plant seeds
Households will be allowed to grow up to four plants per household.
Edible pot products are not yet legally for sale, but can be made at home. The federal government expects framework for edible sales will be in place by the fall of next year.
But Ottawa’s laws do not align with that of Washington, one of nine states that recognizes legal marijuana in a country whose federal laws still prohibit it.
At the border
The Trudeau government has told the public not to worry about travelling so long as individuals are acting appropriately and respecting American laws.
“Quite frankly if you show up doing that Cheech and Chong thing you're going into secondary,” said Border Security Minister Bill Blair. “But if you present yourself in a responsible way and answer the questions honestly, I think, overwhelmingly, Canadians don't have anything to be concerned about.”
However, some have raised concerns about being turned away at the border for working or investing in the industry.
One B.C. resident says it has already happened to him, claiming he was prevented from crossing into the U.S. in May because of his investments. Sam Znaimer said border officials didn’t even ask if he uses marijuana.
“I believe that was because they want to send a message to Canadians that it has not only to do with your personal behavior, but whether in any way you have invested in these companies,” said the venture capitalist.
U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders, of Blaine, Washington, has warned Canadians with cannabis investments may only have two options.
“Either stop travelling to the U.S. or get out of the business.”
While marijuana will be federally legalized north of the 49th Parallel, each Canadian province and territory will be responsible for regulating it.
In Alberta, details like distribution and sales will fall to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
“We've never seen anything like this before and the challenges to reach where we are today, and what's coming in the future are certainly significant,” said AGLC’s Tom Siewert. “We're looking forward to it. It's going to be an exciting industry.”
The system through which cannabis will be sold will be similar the one used by Alberta to sell alcohol: All marijuana produced by federally-approved facilities will be stored in an AGLC warehouse and from there sold to provincially and municipally licensed stores.
Siewert said, “The private model in liquor has helped us immensely in bringing forward the private model in cannabis.”
The AGLC will also oversee training. Anyone who owns, manages, or works in a store that sells cannabis will have to complete a criminal record check and become certified through an online course called SellSafe.
It’s currently linked on the AGLC website so that, as Siewert says, “individuals can get ahead of the game.”
CTV Edmonton’s Bill Fortier tried the course himself, noting it took several hours to complete its multiple lessons. The topics ranged from legislation to issues that employees may deal with, such as minors trying to purchase cannabis and aggressive customers.
Store licences will be approved by the AGLC, which will conduct inspections to ensure rules and security measures are being followed.
By mid-August, more than 780 applicants had submitted for provincial licences.
Earlier this month, the AGLC confirmed 17 retailers would be legally ready to open their doors to the public on October 17.
With files from Bill Fortier