What to expect in 2019
The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, marked the end to nearly a century of prohibition. It was one of the biggest news stories of 2018. Although legalization has a long way to go before being perfect, here is what to expect in 2019.
Retail Stores in Ontario
Most provinces across the country were not really prepared for legalization in terms of retail stores. To note, Ontario and BC, had zero and one brink and mortar store open in time for legalization, respectively. At the present time, Ontario still has no retail cannabis stores.
In Ontario, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said:
We are very concerned about the supply issue so in order to make sure that we don’t have issues in Ontario we are going to open our retail stores in phases.
In other words, 25 stores will open on April 1st, 2019 and will continue to open in phases. Licences for the 25 stores will be handed out via a lottery system.
Health Canada recently released its draft regulations for edible sales, which are to be legalized no later than October 17, 2019. As a result, the proposed rules include:
- A limit of 10 milligrams of THC per package for edible cannabis in solid and beverage forms.
- A limit of 10 mg of THC per unit for ingestible extracts and 1,000 mg per package
- Plain, child-resistant packaging
- A ban on mixing with alcohol or nicotine
- A ban on products that are appealing to kids
In fact, cannabis-infused beverages are the area with the most interest. In 2018 we saw Constellation Brands, home of Corona, investing $5 billion in the cannabis industry. Similarly, we saw Steam Whistle take interest in the industry as well. The Canadian government is accepting feedback on its proposed regulations until February 20, 2019.
Provinces including, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have all reported various degrees of shortages. For example, Quebec Cannabis Corporation has cut store hours to four days a week.
- The shortages are due to a number of reasons:
- Health Canada not handing out licenses to producers quickly enough
- Underestimation of demand
- Logistical issues with getting the product onto the shelves
- Challenges that come with mass producing cannabis
In short, the government previously stated that its main goal for legalization was to wipe out the black market. Doesn’t look like they are doing a good job at that. Hopefully, in 2019 we can see some stabilization in supplies
The federal government passed a host of new impaired driving regulations in 2018. The new regulations go hand in hand with cannabis legalization. Notably:
- Tougher penalties for drunk driving.
- Cops can now pull any driver over and breathalyze them without suspicion of impairment.
- New blood/THC limits, with punishments of up to 10 years in jail depending on the level of THC in the blood.
- Cops are now allowed to use oral fluid tests roadside to determine the amount of THC in a driver’s body.
I expect some of these laws to be challenged in 2019. For example, pulling someone over without suspicion seems unfair.
Overall, this is what to expect in 2019. The introduction of retail stores in Ontario is exciting to see, while already established retail stores wait for a product due to shortages. New driving laws seem harsh and unrealistic. Most of them are definitely going to be challenged. Not to mention, edibles are just around the corner. So far 2019 looks exciting! Let’s see what happens.
What are some changes you expect in 2019? What are you most excited about? Leave your comments below.