‘Twas the night before Legalization Day, and we here at Spark LLP took off our lawyer hats to reflect on what the legalization of pot means for Canada. Then, we looked at the proposed amendments to the Cannabis Act… and promptly put our lawyer hats back on.
The long and short of it is that there are many unanswered questions about how legalization is going to play out, both legally and practically. What’s extra confusing is that each province will have its own approach to cannabis regulation. Today marks the beginning of what will likely be a struggle for governments, police, producers, and citizens in figuring out the scope of the Cannabis Act, its amendment, and related laws.
But for now, let us air five grievances in advance of Legalization Day festivities in Ontario (there are actual legal questions behind each of these, we promise):
- Logistics: The launch of Ontario’s online cannabis store, creatively named the Ontario Cannabis Store (or the OCS–not to be confused with the OSC), will make it the largest online cannabis retailer in the world. The site itself looks beautiful, but is it ready for the amount of traffic that will probably hit on day one? And more importantly, could they possibly run out of supply?
- Personal privacy: There are many questions concerning personal privacy. What personal information do you have to provide to have pot shipped to you? Does it have to be sent to your home address? What information will the OCS retain? And how will a purchase appear on your credit card statement? People who are concerned with their privacy might be deterred from using the OCS and look to other sources (see points 4 and 5).
- Is Canada Post ready?: The OCS says that delivery will take 1-3 business days. This isn’t a terribly long wait time, but we’ve all experienced the joys of delayed or lost packages. How will this be handled by Canada Post? And are the employees adequately trained to complete age checks upon delivery?
- Cross-border transport: As you may know, there are rules about taking/shipping alcohol across provincial borders. Will the same rules apply to pot? It’s worth asking because people who aren’t comfortable buying pot online don’t have any other choice within Ontario until April and may drive a few hours to a brick-and-mortar store in Quebec instead.
- Getting rid of the black market: People across the nation are expected to line up around the block outside dispensaries to get their first grams of legal weed. (Un)fortunately, Ontario won’t have this problem as retail stores won’t be opening until April 1, 2019 (note the missed opportunity in setting this date). But on the flip side, one of the goals in legalizing pot is to stamp out the black market. Wouldn’t limiting pot to a single distribution outlet cause people to seek “alternative” sources for the next six months? That doesn’t sound like an effective solution to the illegal drug problem at all.
If canna-issues like these are also on your mind, feel free to drop us a line–we are happy to help guide you through the maze that is Canada’s canna-law. After all, if you’re in the cannabiz, why wouldn’t you hire a law firm named Spark?