The legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada is only seven days away.
On October 17th, an entire new legal code will immediately come into force. Government-run and otherwise licensed retailers will open their doors and sell the drug for the first time.
TL;DR This is a list of what to expect across Canada on October 17th, the date when recreational cannabis becomes legal.
Legalization is a grand experiment. Canada is only the second country and first major economy to do so.
So while law enforcement agencies and provincial governments claim they are prepared for the big day, there is no real guideline or precedent to follow.
In fact, October 17th will likely be a huge mess in Canada, not least because of the giant public pillow fight on the same day in Montreal.
This is a list of what to expect.
Above all, Canadians should remember to stay safe and offer help to those who need it!
Hundreds of thousands of people will line up
On October 17th, marijuana will suddenly become available at retailers across the country. While in some provinces the marijuana supply will be controlled by government-run distributors, others have opted for a private model. Ontario is the only province that will not have cannabis available in stores until 2019.
But across the country, marijuana enthusiasts and Canadians curious about the newly legal drug will line up to get their first sample. Expect lines that wrap around city blocks, obstructing traffic and making some streets unnavigable.
Whether the cannabis stores will be able to accomodate thousands of visitors for their grand openings is definitely a concern. This is a security risk.
The law is still unclear
While the federal Cannabis Act established a legal framework which the provincial governments then filled in with their own legislation, there are still a lot of grey areas.
Differences in regulation between provinces and municipalities only make the laws more confusing. The patchwork of rules will jeopardize cannabis users who, as they pass between jurisdictions, could suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Law enforcement agencies and politicans will have to adapt as statistics become available. There is going to be a lot of trial and error.
Thousands will break the law
Perhaps more troubling is the fact that few are actually familiar with new cannabis laws.
You may have received a small piece of paper in the mail from the federal government explaining the basics of cannabis legalization. But rules about consumption vary from city to city.
There are specific regulations about where and how Canadians can enjoy marijuana. Most people are unaware of that. Couple that unfamiliarity with streets flooded with thousands of revellers and you have a law enforcement nightmare.
October 17th is going to be a busy day for police departments. Expect sirens everywhere.
Stronger products will be available and people are going to have bad trips
According to the federal goverment, a vast array of marijuana products will be available throughout the country. For most, these products will be totally new. Flowers and extract, with THC potency as high as 90%, will be at the disposal of marijuana enthusiasts and novices, alike.
People are going to be totally oblivious to their limits. Among the excitement, even the most seasoned-users could get ahead of themselves. Many will likely have bad trips. Expect lots of paranoia and ambulances. Review this helpful guideline if you or someone you know is having a bad experience with marijuana.
The roads will be unsafe and highly policed
As people test their limits, there will be confusion about what constitutes a state of mind clear enough to operate a motor vehicle. High drivers will probably take to the streets.
Police are also testing out strategies to spot drivers under the influence. They have already introduced both saliva and blood tests. In densly populated areas, police will probably be monitoring every street corner.
Review this list of the severe punishments for driving high in every canadian province.
There will be parties
10/17 will become the new 4/20. In places where it is legal to smoke in public (and even in places where it is not) thousands will gather to celebrate the newly legal, popular drug. Massive smoke clouds will rise from public parks.
Thousands of revellers will take to the streets. This could present a potentially dangerous situation. As crowds of high partiers move through the city they will envelop public spaces and cut off travel for others. Unsuspecting pedestrians will find themselves suddenly among hundreds of people.
Metro systems will moreover become full of people celebrating legalization. Hopefully, transit officers will be on hand to monitor public safety.
But across the country, celebrations will likely created isolated incidents of public disturbance.