Can Nevada Learn From Canada's Marijuana Legalization?


(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In this Sept. 24, 2018 photo, a pin promoting Crop King Seeds, with the colors and maple-leaf logo of the Canadian flag, is displayed on a package of marijuana seeds for sale at the Warmland Centre, a medical marijuana dispensary in Mill Bay, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island in Canada.

Canada and Nevada have a new thing in common this October: legal use of recreational marijuana. 

The country legalized the drug nationwide, and already has some more liberal laws on the books for consumption than Nevada does. 

Currently, in Nevada, people are not allowed to consume marijuana in public places, including lounges and hotel rooms. 

However, CBC Montreal's Ben Shingler told State of Nevada many provinces are allowing public consumption.

Unlike the United States, where states decide individually whether they want to legalize marijuana, the drug was legalized nationwide in Canada.

But, it is not the Canadian federal government that is deciding how to regulate and distribute marijuana, Shingler said.

Instead, each of the 10 provinces is deciding on its own how the drug will be grown, tested, distributed and consumed. For instance, Quebec is only allowing sales in government-run dispensaries, while Alberta has private dispensaries.

While the industry in Canada is different in many aspects, it is dealing some of the same issues as Nevada -- like pricing and supply.

"People that have been smoking marijuana for a long time are going to continue to use their dealer outside the legal framework if there is not enough supply and also if the price is too high," Shingler said.

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Like in Nevada, provinces in Canada are having to balance how much they tax the industry, so prices don't go too high and push people back into the black market.

On the issue of supply, Shingler said there is a big concern about having enough of the drug for the demand. He said growers must be tested and certified by Health Canada. 

The testing is stringent, but the potential is huge for growers so many companies are scrambling for those certifications.

Shingler said it will really take some time before they'll know if the legalized market can supply the quality and price to meet the demand.

One thing Canada has not done yet is legalize edibles. 

"I think they’ve learned from other jurisdictions when it comes to edibles that it’s difficult to regulate, so they’re waiting -- possibly as long as two years -- to make that legal," he said.

One of the problems Nevada ran into with edibles is the labeling and packaging of such products so they don't appeal to children. 

Shingler said on the first day of legal marijuana sales, people flocked to stores -- but not necessarily because they were waiting for ages to legally buy pot.

"It felt strange and interesting to see people lining up," he said. "I think that was one of the reasons people wanted to be there."

He said it was odd to see people lining up to buy marijuana from a government-run shop.

It is not just government-run shops that people can buy marijuana from, Shingler said. There is also a robust online ordering program as well in some provinces. He said Canada Post will deliver marijuana to people's homes. There is a catch -- it can't be left in the mailbox because the buyer needs to provide identification and proof of age. 



Ben Shingler, CBC Montreal

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada