HAMILTON, Ontario – Canadians already enjoy a lot of marijuana, and on October 17, it will become legal, becoming the second country (following Uruguay) to make cannabis a legal substance, the New York Times reports. Ahead of legalization, a national census bureau study found that nearly 43% of Canadians had smoked marijuana, with 16% using it within the past three months.
“It’s a day in Canadian history we’ll look back on and be proud of,” said Hilary Black, who led the charge for legalization and now works for medicinal marijuana company Canopy Growth Corp. “We are very much taking a strong leadership position on the global stage.”
The country is working on logistics—finalizing the laws that will govern where it will be okay to smoke marijuana and to purchase weed. While cannabis in its weed form will be available immediately, cannabis-infused drinks and foods will not become legal until 2019.
Market analysis predicted the cannabis industry will top $5 billion by 2020, a tempting thought for other countries considering legalization. Three years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ran on a platform of legalizing pot, and dispensaries and pop-up cannabis markets have begun to flourish across the country. Some question how law enforcement will handle the illegal marketplace—will the police crack down on contraband weed much like illegal cigarettes?
American convenience stores considered the marijuana question at last week’s NACS Show during the “Marijuana: Capitalizing on a Budding Opportunity” session. Currently, nine states—including Nevada, Washington and Colorado—and the District of Columbia having passed laws decriminalizing both recreational and medical marijuana. Another 21 states permit the use of medical marijuana.