Many Canadians reacted jubilantly last week as their country became the second in the world, and the first among the economically-powerful G-7 nations to legalize weed.
The move sets Canadian businesses at the forefront of a growing new industry, and is a major social, political and economic experiment, according to major U.S. newspapers. It also sets the Canadian government at odds again with some in the Trump Administration.
The New York Times called Canada’s cannabis legalization a grand experiment that will change the country’s political and economic fabric. Significant numbers of Canadians were happy about the prospect. The Times reports:
Across the country, as government pot retailers opened from Newfoundland to British Columbia, jubilant Canadians waited for hours in line to buy the first state-approved joints. For many, it was a seminal moment, akin to the ending of Prohibition in the United States in the 1930s.
It was also an unlikely unifier, coming at a time when Canada has been buffeted by bruising trade talks with the United States and has seen its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, repeatedly ridiculed by President Trump. Canada is the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize marijuana.
“I have never felt so proud to be Canadian,” said Marco Beaulieu, 29, a janitor, as he waited with friends outside a government cannabis retailer in the east end of Montreal. “Canada is once again a progressive global leader. We have gay rights, feminism, abortion rights, and now we can smoke pot without worrying police are going to arrest us.”
The Wall Street Journal called Canada’s cannabis legalization a test case for other countries that puts Canadian businesses at the forefront of a growing movement and industry. The Journal reports:
Before Wednesday, legalization had already started to reshape Canada’s financial markets. There are more than 120 marijuana companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges, but the market is overshadowed by five companies whose total stock market value has ballooned from less than $4 billion to more than $40 billion in the past year.
Canada’s cannabis regime has also attracted the attention of global consumer-goods firms, who are keen not to miss out on the next big trend. Corona brewer Constellation Brands acquired last year a 10% stake in Canopy Growth Corp. , one of Canada’s largest, government-approved marijuana producers, and in August invested an additional $4 billion in the Smith Falls, Ontario grower and seller. Molson Coors Brewing Co. is also in a joint venture with Hexo Corp. , a Quebec-based cannabis company, to make nonalcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market.
One of the bigger risks for Canada is how the U.S. reacts. In the U.S., the use, sale or possession of marijuana is illegal under federal law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also a longtime critic of marijuana.