Canadians know that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is serious about fulfilling his campaign promise to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada. But no one knows when retail sales will begin. Last May, Health Minister Jane Philpott said that the government will introduce marijuana legislation by spring 2017, but there's no telling how long it will take for that bill to become law.
However, there are a few educated guesses. Earlier this month, Alan Brochstein, writing for the marijuana news site New Cannabis Ventures, reached out to five CEO's of licensed medical marijuana producers (LP's) and asked when they think recreational sales will begin. Here's what they predict, ranked from earliest to latest.
1. September 2017-January 2018
Denis Arsenault - CEO of Organigram in Moncton, New Brunswick - was the most optimistic about the government's timetable for recreational legalization. He was the only LP leader who thought the government could introduce, pass and implement marijuana legislation in the same calendar year - or one month into 2018 at the latest.
2. January 2018
Canadian activists will have a very special New Year's in 2018 if Vic Neufeld's guess is correct. The CEO of Aphria - an LP operating in Leamington, Ontario - thinks that Justin Trudeau's team will have the recreational market ready to go in January 2018.
Neil Closner - CEO of MedReleaf in Markham, Ontario - hedged his bets by saying he expected recreational sales to begin some time in 2018.
4. Spring 2018
Cannabis prohibition in Canada will melt away with the snow in spring 2018 if Terry Booth is correct. That's when the CEO of Cremona, Alberta's Aurora Cannabis thinks recreational marijuana sales will begin. Maybe that will spark a new holiday tradition: cannabis-themed Easter Egg hunts.
5. Fall 2018
The most pessimistic prediction came from Bruce Linton, who is the head of Canopy Growth, the organization that owns the LP's Tweed and Bedrocan. He thinks that we won't see recreational sales take effect until the end of 2018. But even with this cautious outlook, Canadians should be able to ring in New Year's 2019 by having a puff legally.
Why the delay?
Waiting another waiting another year-and-a-half is disappointing news for consumers who are eager to have their first puff of legal marijuana. But Lisa Campbell - the chair of Women Grow Toronto - says it's understandable that legalization will take some time to figure out given the complexity of the issue.
"It's very interesting that the majority of the CEOs estimate legal sales won't take place until 2018," Campbell told Civilized. "While it's disappointing that legalization will take so long, Canada also has to be compliant with international treaties. Currently cannabis is only legal internationally for scientific and medical use, which is why legalization will take time to sort out."
Banner image: Observing the plants at Organigram's medical marijuana facility. (Brock Jorgensen / Civilized)