The Associated Press reports:
Mat Beren and his friends used to drive by the vast greenhouses of southern British Columbia and joke about how much weed they could grow there. Years later, it’s no joke. The tomato and pepper plants that once filled some of those greenhouses have been replaced with a new cash crop: marijuana. Beren and other formerly illicit growers are helping cultivate it. The buyers no longer are unlawful dealers or dubious medical dispensaries; it’s the Canadian government.
On Oct. 17, Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace. Uruguay launched legal sales last year, after several years of planning. It’s a profound social shift promised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fueled by a desire to bring the black market into a regulated, taxed system after nearly a century of prohibition.
Eager pot buyers hoping to score some weed when Canada goes legal next week could be in for a bummer. Across the nation, only a handful of retail locations will be up and running on Oct. 17, including just one store in British Columbia and none in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Producers, meanwhile, are unlikely to come close to meeting initial demand due to delays in getting licenses and signing supply agreements. The result will be limited selections of dried bud and oils for consumers.
The limited store openings and pot supplies may hamper sales at the outset, curbing enthusiasm for pot stocks that have soared in anticipation of Canada becoming the first Group of Seven nation to legalize marijuana. Canada’s market is expected to soar to C$4.3 billion ($3.3 billion) in the first year, according to Deloitte, with global demand poised to juice sales further as more countries follow Canada’s lead.
Obviously, bringing any weed into the U.S.—even small amounts for personal use—is just as illegal as ever. But recent reports have suggested that U.S. border services might also deny entry to Canadians who tell them they’ve ever consumed marijuana, worked in the Canadian marijuana industry, or even have investments in pot stocks. Perhaps the most alarming scenario involved border agents checking Canadians’ credit card data—accessible to them if it’s stored on an American server—to check if the prospective border-crosser ever bought pot with plastic.