Cannabis, Eh?

Attention turns to the Great Green North's legalization plans

O Canada! The specter of a Donald Trump presidency has some Americans contemplating an emergency emigration northward to huddle in fear with our Canadian cousins. With that reality now looming, Yankees of a particular stripe also have this to consider: Cannabis likely will be legalized in the Great White North in 2017.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long promised as much, and a report due this week will lay out the details of such legislation for the country's spring session of parliament. Skeptics need only look to Canadian financial markets and their cannabis-affiliated companies, shares of which soared upon news of successful legalization initiatives in the United States last month. The world, or at least Ottawa, is watching.

"One of the things we have learned, or we have heard ... from states like Washington and Colorado ... is take your time, because it's much harder to pull something back than it is to perhaps be a little bit more restrictive out of the box and then, as you learn, you maybe loosen things up a bit," Anne McLellan, head of Canada's Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, told the Toronto Star in September.

She cites the tumult in Colorado over cannabis-infused edibles that resemble candy, and the absence (until this October) of a regulatory advertising policy. The constitutional monarchy's signature on multiple international treaties that criminalize marijuana will also complicate things.

Yet with or without kinks, Canada's nationwide recreational marijuana program (should it come to pass) will be the first of its kind. Uruguay legalized cannabis in 2013, but a poorly planned, authoritarian system has prevented it from reaching its citizens (other than home grows) and bungled a potential boon to tourism.

Since most of Canada's metropolitan areas are in close proximity to our shared border, it's not a stretch of the imagination to picture millions of American dollars, from states that still prohibit pot (are you listening, Gov. Otter?), booking up their hotels and lining Canadian coffers (cannabis will, undoubtedly, be heavily taxed). "B.C. Bud" is, after all, a legendary, if illicit, export.

Unless, of course, Trump decides to build two walls. ♦

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