What You Need to Know Before the Legalization of Cannabis in Canada
Since the election of the Liberal Government in 2015, Canadians have been waiting for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. Now that we are part of the way through 2018, the legalization of non-medical cannabis is closer to becoming a reality for Canadians. But how much longer will they have to wait? And what will legalization of cannabis in Canada mean for the medical cannabis industry?
In mid-February, the Canadian government announced that Canadians will have to wait a little longer than expected before cannabis is legal to buy for recreational use. The legalization of cannabis was expected for July 1, 2018, but the Canadian Senate announced that they will review Bill C-45 on June 7, 2018.
The good news for Canadians who are waiting for legalization of cannabis to come to fruition is that cannabis in Canada could be legal as early as June 7. But, it could take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks before consumers will see cannabis in stores. As it stands, industry players are not optimistic that cannabis will hit Canadian retail stores before September.
What Needs to Happen Before the Legalization of Cannabis in Canada?
Once cannabis is legal in Canada, each province and territory will be responsible for implementing how it plans to manage the sale of cannabis. For the most part, provinces have already determined that the provincial distributor of cannabis will be a crown corporation, particularly the liquor commission.
Provinces and territories are laying out their framework for the sale of cannabis in Canada. Without much direction from the Federal Government, provinces and territories have lots of work to do to prepare for the upcoming legalization cannabis Canada. Currently, provincial governments are working hard to secure a stable, steady supply of cannabis through partnerships with companies currently in production under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). To date, five provinces have announced supply deals, with Quebec leading the charge and calling for the largest supply of cannabis.
Additionally, the framework is being outlined for retail store fronts and online sales. Each province has announced that once legalization of cannabis occurs in Canada, online sales will be permitted and overseen by the provincial government.
Until Bill C-45 passes through the senate in June, there is not much for consumers to do but wait until the provinces receive more guidance from the federal government.
In its 2018 budget, released on February 27, the federal government outlined its taxation plans for cannabis once it becomes legalized. Taxation of cannabis in Canada will be applied to federally-licensed producers and will be executed as either a flat rate on the quantity of cannabis in a product or as a percentage of the sale price, depending on whichever is greater.
How Will Legalization Affect Medical Cannabis in Canada?
Although much of the conversation surrounding cannabis has shifted to recreational cannabis, medical cannabis in Canada is still very much an active part of the medical market. Medical cannabis Canada was legalized in 2001 and has since been used as a treatment for many illnesses, including cancer, colitis, fibromyalgia, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and IBS.
With recreational cannabis on the verge of legalization, concerns remain over how the medical cannabis market will be affected. According to the US National Library of Medicine (NIH) licensed producers of medical cannabis are of two minds. Some are looking forward to the opportunity presented by the dual market, but, others fear there will be confusion between the two markets.
What is important to remember is that both markets are separate entities. While some of the licensed producers will try to service both markets, there will be some companies that will remain designated medical cannabis producers.
NIH notes that medical marijuana could likely be cheaper than recreational cannabis. This is because you can only buy medical cannabis in Canada with a prescription, which means that it is eligible to be a medical expense. Although the majority of insurance companies have yet to extend their benefits to cover medical cannabis in Canada, it is clear that the industry is moving in that direction with the recent news that Sun Life Assurance Co will be the first company to add medical cannabis to its group benefit plans.
Although it has been legal for more than 15 years, medical cannabis has not been widely adopted by the pharmaceutical industry. But, as the public becomes more comfortable with medical cannabis Canada, we can expect to see more pharmacies securing medical cannabis deals before the expected supply crunch once legalization has passed. To date, Shopper’s Drug Mart has inked deals with four licensed producers. Meanwhile Lovell Drugs, and PharmaChoice have also signed agreements for medical cannabis.
How Is Medical Cannabis in Canada An Indicator for Recreational Cannabis?
Even though the medical cannabis and recreational cannabis markets are very in Canada, it’s possible to use the medical cannabis market to speculate the size of the recreational market in Canada.
In Canada, Ontario has the highest number of applicants for medical cannabis. Data released by Health Canada highlights that of the 235,000 medical cannabis applicants as of the end of September 2017, Ontario accounted for more than 96,000 applicants, followed close behind by Alberta with 91,150 medical cannabis applicants.
Although these figures are related to medical cannabis use, they offer insight into the future of the recreational cannabis market. The figures state that both Ontario and Alberta could have the highest rates of recreational use in Canada.
Ahead of The Legalization of Cannabis in Canada
While Canadians wait for cannabis in Canada to finally become legalized, we can expect to see the framework being laid out by local and provincial governments. Stay tuned for more information about how and where cannabis will be sold.
If you’re interested in finding out more information about the different strains of cannabis available, check out Canadian strains online.