We've got cannabis covered: Coast-to-coast with marijuana legalization in Canada

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Some tech glitches, a few sold out products and a quest to find that first legal toke.

Well, it’s here. From province to province, government portals started selling cannabis, many at the stroke of midnight. So has the entire county gone up in puff of smoke? Read on-the-ground stories and analysis from across the Postmedia chain.

One thing is definitely for certain: The entire world is watching how Canada will handle the legalization experiment. It’s a cultural revolution. One National Post writer wonders how legalization change the way grownups get together. Maybe there’s a work function and someone breaks out a joint. Maybe it’s a family function and the most surprising relative is indulging.

Could the country start attracting canna-curious tourists as well? The Growth Op explores whether Canadian cities could go the way of Amsterdam.

Not everyone is embracing legalization full-throttle. Most Canadians think the legal age to purchase weed should be 21, a new poll finds. The poll reveals that 52 per cent of respondents agreed that legal weed would cause more harm than good, while 48 per cent disagreed.

There are certainly still naysayers out there. But despite that, one columnist believes it is remarkable how peacefully this sea change is washing over the country — and it seems the patchwork of provincial and municipal rules is partly to credit for that.

Here’s the situation, coast-to-coast:

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Thanks to its eastern advantage, Newfoundland was first to see the dawn of cannabis legalization in Canada. The Ottawa Citizen followed Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton to Newfoundland to participate in the first sale of cannabis in Canada.

In Montreal, the Gazette reports 100 or so early birds lined up outside of a dispensary on Ste-Catherine St., waiting for the doors to open at 10 a.m. Among the details locals need to know? Twelve government-run Société Québécoise du Cannabis stores selling approximately 110 products (and up to 180 in the coming weeks) will be open for business across the province at 10 a.m, with prices starting at $5.25 per gram. Three outlets are opening in Montreal today.


A man smokes a marijuana joint as he waits in line outside a government store to purchase legal cannabis in Montreal, Wednesday, October 17, 2018. 

The Ottawa Citizen reports cannabis in Ontario is starting at $7.50 a gram on the government’s online store. The store offers a selection of dried flower, pre-rolled joints, oils and capsules and will eventually carry around 150 strains.

But what if you wanted a joint in Ottawa right now? On behalf of all the other slightly lazy, mildly curious Ontarians looking to take advantage of the legal market, the National Post sent a reporter on a quest for that first Day One toke.


Gregg Wigeland, Director of Cultivation at Sundial Growers, tends to cannabis plants at the company’s facility in Olds, Alberta Wednesday, October 10, 2018. 

Alberta‘s online marijuana hub went live at 12:01 a.m. But things didn’t go perfectly smooth, according to the Edmonton Journal: “The site was overwhelmed with customers in the first few moments and wouldn’t load for some users. For others, while it did load, there was a wait to access the store. Others still found delays in the registration process.”

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission expects up to 250 retail stores to eventually open across Alberta during the first year of legalization. The Calgary Herald reports 17 stores are ready and licensed for this week’s launch, including two in the south end of Calgary. And former Calgary resident Tommy Chong, (yes, that Tommy Chong) was had planned to be one of the first to purchase and sample legal weed in Calgary, joining an expected lineup at 420 Premium Market at Southland Crossing. But … then he told The Growth Op he was in Los Angeles and unable to find his passport. Still, Chong shared some of his memories of coming-of-age with cannabis in Calgary.


Actor Tommy Chong on February 17, 2016 in Hollywood, California. 

There was less accessible weed in Saskatchewan’s capital. The Leader Post reports that Regina pot shops aren’t ready to open with residents having to head out to Edenwold, roughly 15 kilometres from the city’s downtown. The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority refused to confirm to the Leader Post where the seven stores opening in the province are located.

In British Columbia, some cannabis strains had already sold out by morning. The Vancouver Sun reports that the government online store, which officially started pot sales at 12 a.m., sold out of some of their dried flower product under $10 a gram in 1 gram amounts.

City-to-city, the situation in the province appeared to be very different. A National Post reporter explores how Richmond has taken a rigid — some say archaic — stance when it comes to pot access, despite being next door to cannabis-friendly Vancouver. Richmond has outlawed any form of retail cannabis, and will also only let one cannabis production facility operate in the city.

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