Planning to shop for pot? Quebecs a bargain.

Planning to shop for pot? Quebec\s a bargain.
Canadian cannabis will be legal in a few days. Read this first
As of legalization day, Oct. 17, more Canadians than ever will be using cannabis. What will that mean for our health-care system?

Experts say our closest comparison is Colorado. When the U.S. state legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, it saw a 23 per cent increase in pot-related emergency room visits. The spike lasted a few months. Most patients were diagnosed with mental illness, some with uncontrollable vomiting or injuries.

The Canadian Medical Association is urging the government to closely monitor issues in Canadian hospitals.

The CSA also noted that 74 per cent of publicly listed cannabis companies with operations in the U.S. — where marijuana is legal in some states but illegal at the federal level — did not provide sufficient disclosure about the related risks, as previously requested by the umbrella organization.

“We know with legalization, it normalizes use,” CMA president Dr. Gigi Osler said. “We are entering this new reality.”

For Canadians who choose pot, the CMA endorses Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, which include using a vaporizer, avoiding deep inhalation and choosing low-THC products. (THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.)

“This is an entirely new legal industry and the valuation of biological assets can be a challenge for even the most savvy LPs,” he said in an email. “The guidance and recommendations made in the report will help our members achieve and indeed exceed the highest disclosure rules possible.”

Explaining the rules for cannabis, one week from legalization

Pregnant Canadians or those with a history of mental health issues are advised to stay away from cannabis.

The CMA recommends Canadians talk to their doctor about pot use. But at least one doctor says family physicians don’t know enough about cannabis to offer advice.

British Columbia, home of the "B.C. Bud" long cherished by American pot connoisseurs, has had a prevalent marijuana culture since the 1970s, after U.S. draft-dodgers from the Vietnam War settled on Vancouver Island and in the provinces southeastern mountains. But a change in government last year slowed cannabis distribution plans there, too, and it will have just one store ready next Wednesday: a state-run shop in Kamloops, a few hours drive northeast of Vancouver. By contrast, Alberta expects to open 17 next week and 250 within a year.

“The safety studies are that marijuana is actually safer than alcohol in overuse, so hopefully we won’t see overdoses,” said Dr. Allan McDonald of St. Albert, Alta.

READ MORE: Expert at Alberta symposium concerned about cannabis’ effects on memory, language, mood

It also stands in contrast to the United States, where the federal government outlaws marijuana while most states allow medical or recreational use for people 21 and older. Canadas national approach has allowed for unfettered industry banking, inter-province shipments of cannabis, online ordering, postal delivery and billions of dollars in investment; national prohibition in the U.S. has stifled greater industry expansion there.

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McDonald gets several questions a day about cannabis, from patients as young as 15. Many have done their research online and want prescriptions. He said aside from studies on seizures, there isn’t enough scientific evidence of any medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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“I can’t prescribe alcohol, I can’t prescribe trips to Hawaii, and so I don’t prescribe marijuana,” McDonald said.

British Columbia safety minister Mike Farnworth said he learned two primary lessons by visiting Oregon and Washington, U.S. states with recreational marijuana. One was not to look at the industry as an immediate cash cow, as it will take time to displace the black market. The other was to start with relatively strict regulations and then loosen them as needed, because its much harder to tighten them after the fact.

Edmonton police officers not allowed to use recreational cannabis

“(I’m) not saying it doesn’t make people feel better, but it’s not a medication.”

Police association head slams beyond ridiculous pot rules for Mounties

“It actually took about a year and three months to actually see the cannabis doctor,” the 43-year-old said.

The overall total showed Canadians consuming an average 19.8 grams a month in the first nine months of the year: Those using it for medicinal purposes used 36.9 grams a month, paying an average $7.27, while recreational users consumed less and paid less, at 15.6 grams and $6.79, respectively.

Mackiewich, of Edmonton, had surgery for a ruptured disc in 2015, and has had chronic pain ever since. He says he couldn’t function on opioids, but finding a doctor who would refer him to a cannabis clinic wasn’t easy. Then the clinic had a backlog of patients before him.

Wait times are shorter now, with the proliferation of specialized clinics. But Mackiewich hopes now that cannabis-curious people can soon buy their pot, patients like him won’t have to suffer as long.

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“(Medical cannabis) reduces (my) pain up to 40 per cent,” Mackiewich said. “So it actually helps quite a bit.”

According to the agencys crowdsourcing data, average prices for dried cannabis in Ontario rose in the third quarter to $7.49 a gram, up 5.8 per cent from the previous three months.

In Colorado, medical cannabis sales have dropped since 2014. The recreational market continues to grow.

"We're satisfied that about approximately 70 per cent of the population will be serviced with a bricks-and-mortar store within about 50 kilometres of their location," Ryan said, with in excess of 20 retail locations to open next week in addition to online service.

Alberta Health Services said it has seen a small increase in the number of emergency department or urgent care centre visits related to cannabis-use. The following stats were provided to Global News by AHS:

The latest 2018 data records are from January to the end of August. To date, AHS has seen 502 adults admitted to an ED or UCC.

The impact on EDs is not substantial, according the AHS. The numbers are small compared to overall ED visits (about .04 per cent of total ED/UCC visits).

Oct. 9, 2018: Production manager Shawn McDougall shows a cannabis flower after its been harvested and dried at Blissco Cannabis Corp. in Langley, B.C.

"My advice to those that are operating right now is to be forewarned, that come October 17 we will then have the authority and the power to do so, and we have full intentions of doing so," he said.

Cannabis legalization is coming to Canada on Oct. 17, and whether you plan on smoking up or not, itll change the way you live. Businesses across the country, from growers and retailers to the tech and tourism sectors, are preparing to reap a windfall from legal marijuana. But Canadians also face difficult questions about cannabis use in the workplace, in their homes and among their friends and loved ones.

Keep in mind, the provincial government needs to take a safer-than-sorry approach to cannabis, so some statements still need to be taken with a grain of salt. For example, one leaflet reads: Like alcohol and tobacco, cannabis has risks, especially for youth and young adults, which is still widely contested by academics and advocates who argue that cannabis can be incredibly helpful in treating heath conditions at all ages and the impacts on youth are born of drug-war-era fear tactics. On the other hand, blunt statements in the fact sheets, like: dont cross the border with cannabis, may help clear up lingering confusion and prevent someone from getting smacked with a ;lifetime ban from the United States.

Globe and Mail journalists have been documenting Canadas preparations for legalization day, and the possible future that comes after. Our cannabis portal and premium newsletter, Cannabis Professional, are good places to get caught up and stay informed once legalization is here. Heres an overview of some of the major issues to get you ready for the 17th.

Those curious the learn more about the federal changes are urged to visit the Health Canada cannabis portal or for more on the provincial changes. On both sites, users can explore colour-coded topics to delve deeper into specific issues, including cannabis use in the workplace, the impact of legalization on indigenous governments, and landlord rights. Each section contains several important public documents, links to active cannabis organizations, and educational resources for further research.

I want to know … • Where to buy it • Whats going on in Ontario • Where the black market begins • How to invest in cannabis • How to start a cannabis career • Can I get high at work? • How to get a healthy high • How to talk to my kids

When the federal government legalized cannabis earlier this year, it left the provinces in charge of how the drug will be sold and where consumers can smoke it. Some things are mostly constant across the country: You cant buy cannabis if youre under 18 (though you may have to be 19 in some provinces), you can grow up to four plants at home (except in Manitoba and Quebec, where you cant) and youll be able to carry up to 30 grams outside your residence.

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When it comes to buying the stuff, though, its a mixed bag. Manitobas stores and online sales will be exclusively private; retailers in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Quebec are exclusively government run; Alberta has private retailers, but government online sales; and B.C. is a mix of everything. (Well get to Ontario in the next section of this guide.) And when it comes to smoking outside your home, the rules will generally be close to the local tobacco-smoking laws, but some places wont let you smoke in your car or near places where children play.

In preparation for the federal legalization of cannabis, the provincial government is papering everyones mailbox with two handy documents inculcating major policy shifts taking effect on Oct. 17.

Heres a full primer on how the provincial rules differ. For the latest news on planned changes to your provinces laws, check the laws and regulations page of The Globe cannabis portal.

The city will become party central that night with big bashes including  “Canadas Largest Legalization Party” hosted by the Cannabis Society and Fireside Cannabis at the Love Child Social House, 69 Bathurst St. More than 600 Toronto representatives from the cannabis industry are expected to attend as the party winds runs from 6 p.m. on legalization day to 2 a.m.

Canadas most populous province – and, by extension, the biggest potential market for cannabis consumption – will be among the least prepared for legalization day, which is why were giving it its own section here.

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Originally, premier Kathleen Wynnes Liberal government created a new wing of the LCBO, the provincial liquor watchdog, that would be in charge of cannabis sales. Then Ontarians elected Doug Fords Progressive Conservatives, who instead decided private retail was the way to go.

“We think this is beneficial to Canadians as consumers as a whole. We want to celebrate all these businesses who have worked so hard to take this industry to where it is today. Canada has an opportunity here to be worldwide leaders.”

How many stores will there be? What cities will they be in? We dont know that yet: The government wont have a framework ready until April, and Ontarios cities – which are holding municipal elections on Oct. 22 – get a one-time window to decide if they want pot stores locally. So on Oct. 17, Ontarians can buy online through the government retailer, but not in bricks-and-mortar shops.

The legalization covers fresh and dried cannabis, and weaker kinds of cannabis oil, but not concentrates, extracts or the edible products that can be made from them. Ottawa says it will figure out a regulatory framework for edibles within a year, but for now, the businesses selling them are still grey-market at best. That isnt deterring the Canadian purveyors of shatter – mechanically extracted cannabis oil thats been concentrated into a hard substance – and the big businesses eager to sell their products once theyre legal.

“We’re big believers of the benefits of cannabis,” said Cannabis Society CEO and founder Bill Hennessey.

The other open question is what will happen to Canadians who were convicted of pot dealing or possession when that was still illegal. Such convictions disproportionately fell on black and Indigenous Canadians. Some groups are calling for a general amnesty, or a preferential licensing system to help those harmed by prohibition to transition into legal businesses.

Canada is the undisputed front-runner in the global cannabis industry, estimated to reach $32 billion in consumer spending by 2022, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. This is in large part because marijuana remains federally illegal in the U.S., restricting banks, investors, and stock exchanges from participating in the sector. In an echo of Prohibition, when Canadian companies such as Seagram Co. flourished, Canadas stock exchanges have become the go-to for American cannabis companies. The countrys investment bankers do most of the industrys deals, and Canada has developed some of the most advanced technology and the largest growing operations. Today, the country boasts about 135 publicly traded companies with a combined market value of more than $60 billion (US$46.1 billon), including dozens of U.S.-focused producers that cant legally list in their home country.

Cannabis has been a big business in Canada even before legalization: By Statistics Canadas estimates, 4.9 million Canadians spent about $5.7-billion on cannabis in 2017. Reaping the rewards wont be easy for producers, retailers or other businesses who have to navigate the new legal landscape, but investors are already fighting for a stake in the companies getting ready for legalization.

On an early September morning, six weeks before Canada would become the first Group of Seven country to legalize recreational marijuana, construction workers in Edmonton, Alta., were rushing to convert a former Dairy Queen into an experiential cannabis store. Municipal rules dictate that the storefront cant sell pot because its too close to another outlet, but Alcanna Inc., a liquor and cannabis retailer thats 25 per cent owned by Aurora Cannabis Inc., has gotten creative. They envisioned a safe space where people—high or sober—can learn about cannabis, do yoga, and maybe even join a knitting class.

20 power players putting down roots in the cannabis industry

To help investors and businesses make sense of the post-legalization world, The Globe has launched Cannabis Professional, a premium business-to-business news service. The Globes cannabis portal also has in-depth coverage of investing, retail and small business and the consumer side of the pot market.

In August, Canopy Growth Corp., the second-largest cannabis company with a market value of more than $14 billion announced the industrys biggest deal yet, with a $3.8 billion investment from Corona beer maker Constellation Brands Inc., initiating a stock rally across the sector. Canopy is already the biggest licensed producer in Canada, with 4.3 million square feet of growing space and more than a third of the countrys disclosed supply contracts for recreational pot. It plans to enter the U.S. market as soon as cannabis becomes federally legal, Chief Executive Bruce Linton has said.

Canada to Open More Than 100 Pot Shops as It Becomes the Second Country to Legalize Marijuana

John Prentice is founder and chief executive of Ample Organics Inc., a seed-to-sale software company. Were like the plumbing of the cannabis industry, he says.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, but legal recreational use took longer to catch on. Attempts to decriminalize possession died in the early 2000s, but public attitudes were changing. In an April 2017 poll by Forum Research Inc., 53 per cent of Canadians agreed that marijuana should be legal in the country. Last year, Trudeaus government introduced legislation to allow recreational use, and on Oct. 17, Canada will join Uruguay as one of only two countries in the world to legalize pot nationally.

If your idea of the cannabis industry is grow-ops and teenage pot dealers on streetcorners, think again. Every sector of Canadian industry has something at stake. Tech entrepreneurs are crafting specialized software to track inventory and co-ordinate sales. Food and beverage experts are being poached to work at cannabis ventures. Tourism companies are hiring guides to shepherd around foreign visitors who want to try Canadas newly legal drugs.

Investment bankers at smaller Canadian firms have ridden the wave of investor mania thats generated comparisons to the dot-com bubble. Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., which made its name in the mining and energy sectors, now says cannabis is its largest Canadian business. If youre looking for federal buy-in and federal support, Canada is really the only place to be, says Graham Saunders, head of origination at Canaccord. 

The simple answer is no, thats not a good idea, especially if your job is dangerous. The complicated answer: Workplaces across Canada will have to rethink their policies about where and how their employees are allowed to use legal drugs. The Cannabis Act didnt give employers additional powers to impose random drug tests on their employees, as railway and trucking companies had asked for. That leaves companies with tricky decisions about how they define cannabis impairment, how managers should monitor whether employees are fit for work and whether cannabis is allowed at workplace events.

The poll shows that of 1,000 employed Canadians surveyed, 6 per cent believe their organizations will allow the use of cannabis for recreational purposes during work hours, with managers more likely (10%) to believe that than employees (2%)

Canada set to become largest country with legal pot sales

For cannabis novices and experienced users alike, legalization will change the way Canadians consume the drug – and theres still a lot we dont know about its long-term effects on human health. Sometimes, heavy-using teenagers develop brain damage and addiction problems, but sometimes they dont. The study of cannabis and cancer care is still in its infancy. Some lifestyle brands claim cannabis can help women improve their sex lives, but science hasnt conclusively proved that either.

One of the governments stated goals is to make sure Health Canada can safeguard the quality of products Canadians buy. But at a certain point, its up to you, the consumer. Health-conscious consumers will have to become savvy about how much THC (the compound responsible for a high) their cannabis contains, and how much CBD (a compound believed to have therapeutic, but not high-producing, properties) and what dosage and delivery method gets the desired result. Check back at The Globes cannabis health page to learn more.

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A large portion of both managers and non-managers agree that there will be an increase in health and safety incidents and absenteeism due to cannabis use.

Talking to your children about anything they do, legal or otherwise, requires trust and empathy. Chances are that your kids already know more than you realize about cannabis, gleaning both fact and misinformation from their peers, the internet or popular culture. Set a good example by learning all you can about cannabis consumption and its risk, even if you never plan to partake. Hopefully, some of the resources above will help with that.

A new survey shows a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to expectations surrounding recreational cannabis use and the workplace.

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to [email protected] Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.