After years of public discussion, illegal dispensaries, and long awaited promises, Canada will legalize recreational cannabis on Wednesday October 17. It will be an historic moment not only for the country, but for the entire world as Canada officially becomes one of only two countries (the other being Uruguay) in the world to do so. Let that sink in – Canada is only the second country in the world to hit this progressive milestone, and for that, we should be thankful.
However, as with any radical new government policy, the road ahead following Oct 17 is not going to be smooth nor what everyone hopes for and expects. With no example to follow, our country is going it blind, and at times in this process that has been all too apparent. Each province has been given considerable freedoms over how they wish to go about the selling and distributing of cannabis, as well as how and where people are to be able to consume it. These policies are subject to change, luckily, and to be sure, we will see an evolution of these policies over the years to come.
Countdown to Legalization
Who will be selling legal weed?
For example – some provinces are only allowing public (ie. Government) sales, while some are allowing private dispensaries to apply for licenses as well. Some provinces, such as Ontario, have planned to start out only allowing public sales and then moving to private sales come April 2019.
And in these processes, some provinces are more ahead than others. Take Alberta – vast liberalism isn’t what first comes to mind when one pictures this province, however they are the most prepared for October 17 out of any province, with over 250 stores ready to open in the first round. This far surpasses any other province, many of which will be lucky to have just a few legal locations ready to operate in October. Maybe most surprising is British Columbia, a province well known for it’s long time cannabis-friendly attitudes and long history of ‘grey area’ pot shops operating freely around Vancouver. The home of infamous BC Bud will have just one legal cannabis store operating as of Oct 17, and that will be in Kamloops.
What will be available to me?
All of this aside, one must also remember what will actually be available in these cannabis stores – a limited selection of flower, bought from industrial, licensed producers only in pre-sealed white bags, covered in health warnings. No edibles, no oils, no concentrates, or topicals – at least not yet.
Sadly, the legal cannabis consumer will be vastly limited in their choices, and potentially the quality of the cannabis they buy. There are also expected to be massive shortages and delays in getting product to legal cannabis stores, so reliability will also be an issue.
Where HGA comes in.
This leaves a huge gap in the supply market – a gap that the black and grey markets will be sure to fill. Though many online and physical shops are closing, at least for now, in anticipation of legalization, some (including High Grade Aid) are staying open and will continue to provide medical and recreational consumers alike with the products they’ve come to rely on and need. We will continue to work with only small, craft growers with long histories of growing AAAA flower and who take pride in their often organic, natural growing methods.
Grey market, high quality providers, like HGA, will continue operating until an appropriate path for legalization becomes clear, which much of the industry has faith will eventually become a reality. Until then, each province is going to have to fight it out for themselves, and see what works through trial and error. Luckily, especially here in BC, we have a solid, strong team of long-time cannabis advocates who are ready to lead the way and get us somewhere better than the place we are in now. And responsible providers such as ourselves will always be fighting for the consumers, those who now have a federal right to use, whether they have a doctors note or not.