(AP) — Mat Beren and his friends used to drive by the vast greenhouses of southern British Columbia and joke about how much weed they could grow there.
On October 17, Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace. Uruguay launched legal sales last year, after several years of planning.
It’s a profound social shift promised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fuelled by a desire to bring the black market into a regulated, taxed system after nearly a century of prohibition.
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. Canada’s 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 US has stifled greater industry expansion there.
“It’s going to change the global debate on drug policy,” she said. “There’s no other country immediately considering legalising the nonmedical use of cannabis, but I think Canada will provide almost the permission for other countries to move forward.”
At least 109 legal pot shops are expected to open across the nation of 37 million people next Wednesday, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. For now, they’ll offer dried flower, capsules, tinctures and seeds, with sales of marijuana-infused foods and concentrates expected to begin next year.