Cannabis Legalization Day in Canada: Leafly’s Live Coverage

Published on October 16, 2018 · Last updated January 5, 2023
(Marc Bruxelle/iStock)

October 17 marks a profound historical moment: Canada legalizes cannabis.

Leafly’s correspondents will file reports from provinces east-to-west over the 24 hour period that is Legalization Day.

Wednesday, Oct. 17

Congratulations, Canada!

leafly canada bud drop ap

A depiction of a cannabis bud hangs from the ceiling as a band plays at Leafly’s Bud Drop countdown party in Toronto Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, as partygoers prepare to mark the legalization of Cannabis across Canada. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

From the midnight Bud Drop in Toronto to whatever munchies you may be getting into tonight to mark the occasion, all of us here at Leafly thank you for joining our coverage and celebration of Legalization Day in Canada. Savor the moment! Today you became the world’s largest country to reject prohibition in favor of a legal, regulated market. Congratulations!

For more information about cannabis, the laws in your neck of the woods, the products available, and local store menus, we invite you to explore the site and share our passion for legal cannabis.

—Leafly Canada & US Staff

The Leafly Guide to Cannabis in Canada

Canada Caps Off First Day of Legal Adult-Use Sales

MONTREAL (AP) — Jubilant customers stood in long lines for hours then lit up and celebrated on sidewalks Wednesday as Canada became the world’s largest legal cannabis marketplace.

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In Toronto, people smoked joints as soon as they rolled out of bed in a big “wake and bake” celebration. In Alberta, a government website that sells cannabis products crashed when too many people tried to place orders.

A Canadian cannabis consumer celebrates one of Legalization Day’s first legal cannabis sales outside a store in Kanloops, BC. (Landon Sarver for Leafly)

And in Montreal, Graeme Campbell welcomed the day he could easily buy all the pot he wanted.

In the past, it was “hard to find people to sell to me because I look like a cop,” the clean-cut, 43-year-old computer programmer said outside a newly opened cannabis store.

He and his friend Alex Lacrosse were smoking when two police officers walked by. “I passed you a joint right in front of them and they didn’t even bat an eye,” Lacrosse told his friend.

—Associated Press

‘I Can Participate in the Culture That Has Been Blacklisted for the Past 50 Years’

VANCOUVER, BC—At an event in Robson Square, consumer Rob Wood says legalization feels like freedom. “I can smoke. I can grow my own weed. I can partake in the culture that has been blacklisted for the past 50 years,” he said.

Wood says he’s still concerned about the ambiguity surrounding current cannabis laws and says lawmakers need to better clarify what smokers are and aren’t allowed to do. “If I pass a buddy a joint on the street in front of a cop, can they look at me and say I’m trafficking?”

Khalid Nasr (Michelle Gamage for Leafly)

Wood, who said he’s been smoking regularly for 22 years, explained that he uses cannabis to manage pain and relax after his physically demanding job.

Khalid Nasr is a 35-year-old student who says he’s consumed cannabis in 15 different countries. “It shouldn’t be introduced like it was something criminal,” he said.

Another consumer, Ash McLean, said came down to celebrate with revelers but also to support the Legalization is a Lie protest, meant to draw attention to what protestors say is overregulation of cannabis by the government. McLean says she is unhappy the government is taking power away from small business owners.

—Michelle Gamage

Toronto Police: No, Don’t Call 9-1-1 Over Legal Cannabis

In anticipation of legalization, the Toronto Police Department sent out amusing reminders to folks outlining what isn’t worth a dial-in to emergency services. Even the famous “Distracted Boyfriend” makes an appearance as he ponders phoning 9-1-1 to report his lack of phone minutes—or his neighbor’s pot plants.

Toronto Police would like to remind you that calling them about legal cannabis is similar to calling them to ask for directions—it’s unnecessary.

Check out the rest of the campaign on the Toronto Police twitter page.

Leafly Staff

Trump OKs Canadian Cannabis Imports Into US

Canadian cannabis growers could soon have another type of customer: researchers in the US.

Rolling Stone reported Wednesday that the Trump administration has granted Canadian licensed producer Tilray permission to provide cannabis to scientists in California.

The new deal that was approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency with cannabis firm Tilray Inc. will allow the Canadian company to provide the University of California San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research with capsules that contain CBD and THC, even as Canadians involved in the marijuana industry could be barred from ever legally entering America again. But marijuana advocates say this first of its kind agreement opens the door for other domestic research institutions to access Canadian or other foreign grown marijuana.

US lawmakers had mixed feelings about the announcement:

“So I guess on one hand I’m pleased that they’re even allowing further testing,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tells Rolling Stone. “But on the other hand, I think this just illustrates how backwards our marijuana policy is in America and how limited, you know, the supply is for scientists to study the medicinal benefits of marijuana.”

With the attorney general staunchly opposed to marijuana and the president himself repeatedly saying he supports state’s rights to choose their own pot policies, the California congressman says this further highlights the ineptitude of this administration.

Read the full story at Rolling Stone. [Full disclosure: Leafly and Tilray are both owned by Privateer Holdings.]

—Leafly Staff

Trinity Bellwoods Park First Legal Smoke Out

Damian Fucked Up Trinty Bellwoods 4:20

Jesse Milns/Leafly

One of the city’s most adorable and popular park hang-outs saw a cannabis friendly invasion all day–but things really got lit at 420. Trinity Bellwoods Park,  which has always been a great spot to “chill” in the city, (especially if your spending the day cruising Queen St W shops) hosted its First Legal Smoke session. Home of farmers markets, dog days and pumpkin parades, Bellwoods, as it is affectionately nicknamed, replaced the more typical smoke out location at Yonge and Dundas square this year.

Despite some chilly weather a group of more than a hundred attendees danced to a mix of house music and pop songs in a slight rain and warmed up with free hot chocolate and muffins in the lead up to 4:20.

The diversity that is typical of Bellwoods came to represent while families and joggers passed by commemorative shirts sales and pamphlets breaking down The Cannabis Act.

Trinty Bellwoods 4:20

Jesse Milns/Leafly

Steve, who told me he was happy legalization was upon us because he had wished his father would have considered it for pain in his last few months of life, decide to come down to Trinity Bellwoods not only to celebrate–but to be there to start conversations, especially for anyone who has any questions about the new regulations and market. “I’m invested myself” he explained, “and I want all people to feel comfortable with the changes–even these families with children walking by.”

While some were there to watch most people came to the meet-up, cannabis in tow (not an easy feat in day one Ontario with no retail stores and a frequently down website) ready to light up at exactly 4:20.

The rain stopped, the sky turned blue and somewhere between 4:20 or 4:21 there was a smoke cloud over the park. There was no countdown–only cheers.

While most people had their own doobies (some the size of baseball bats) everyone stood in circles, some big, some small, and shared their’s when the time came.  Truly a community event fitting for Bellwoods.

People watching at its finest–the vibe was fun, inclusive and accessible. A huge bong mascot danced with a kangaroo smoking a joint and many revelers were in canna-costumes for the occasion (you know–green wigs, leafy leis, the lot!).

Sarah Hanlon

Overheard at Trinity Bellwoods Park First Legal Smoke Out

Trinty Bellwoods 4:20

Jesse Milns/Leafly

“They’re legalizing weed tomorrow.” –confused passerby 

“Would you rather live in space or underwater?” –asked to a group moments after 4:20 

“Look at that —-ing thing!” –man reacts to seeing a bat-sized doobie 

“I was like, ‘I don’t care I just have to be there for this–it’s ceremonial.” –excited toker exclaims as she rolls a joint 

“Why is my dad here?” –woman screams across the park 

“Bark ! Bark ! Bark! –multiple confused dogs 

Pro-Cannabis Group Protests Legalization in BC

vancouver marijuana legalization protest

Activists Rama Ray (left) and Dove (right) say cannabis has been less legalized and more controlled and regulated. They were proud to be able to protest with Legalization is a Lie but were concerned about the stigma that still exists around cannabis users. (Michelle Gamage for Leafly)

VANCOUVER, BC—Protesters took to Robson Square on Wednesday to protest the legalization of Canadian cannabis. The group of about 30 protestors were critiquing the way in which the government legalized the drug.

“We’re here to protest for proper legalization of cannabis. We want to see free weed for medical needs and equal rights for every citizen to grow and smoke and sell it,” said protestor Dillon McArdle. “We don’t want to see a monopoly formed around an industry that has been kept alive by the hearts of activists for the last 90 years. I don’t want to see 74 dispensaries in the Lower Mainland shut down for that.”

The protest, dubbed Legalization Is a Lie, included a space for social consumption. Protestors sold cannabis, spoke about the legalization process, and held signs with messages such as “End Cannabis Prohibition” and “Legalize or Legal-Lies?”

A second, smaller protest was organized by Safe Approaches to Marijuana, or SAM, a Washington, DC–based prohibition group that has opposed legalization in US states. The group says legalizing cannabis is harmful.

—Michelle Gamage

Blooper: Ontario Cannabis Store Mislabels Intimate Spray as Oral Product

TORONTO—A perusal of the Ontario Cannabis Store’s online portal on the first day of legalization turned up an array of expected products: various strains of dried weed, oils and tinctures, and accessories needed to use them.

But also on offer is a cannabis-infused “intimate” spray, marketed under the enticingly named Fleur de Lune, which contains eight milligrams of the psychoactive ingredient THC, as well as the cannabinoid CBD.

The only problem is that the Ontario Cannabis Store had initially mislabelled how to apply the product, saying it was for “sublingual” use, which means under the tongue—in other words, orally.

In fact, the spray made by Hexo Corp. is meant to be applied on the genitals, “particularly for women,” to reduce such symptoms as inflammation and pain, said Terry Lake, the Quebec-based company’s vice-president of corporate social responsibility.

“We always knew there was going to be bumps along the road, no country has done this to this extent,” Lake said of Canada’s roll-out of legalized pot.

The 30-millilitre bottle of Fleur de Lune Intimate Spray, which has been approved by Health Canada, sells online for $82.95 and yields about 300 shots of mist.

Canadian Press

Winnipeg Police Issue Ticket for Consuming Cannabis in Vehicle

Winnipeg police say they have already issued a ticket on the first day of cannabis legalization. Police posted a picture of a ticket for consuming cannabis in a motor vehicle on Twitter.

The ticket carries a $672 fine. Police say the ticket was issued in the morning.

They are reminding people that while consuming cannabis is now legal—just like alcohol—consuming it in your car is not.

Canadian Press

Loblaw Unveils C-Stop Stores, Sells out of Product on Day One

C-stop loblaw store

Terri Coles/Leafly

ST. JOHN’S–Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province where Loblaw is selling cannabis at the retail level. Newly launched C-Stop stores situated inside the grocery stores were formerly branded Holy Smokes and sold cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The shopping experience is a stripped-down one, decidedly free of the fanfare that accompanied the stores that opened just after midnight. Customers queued up to purchase products but were out as quickly as they were in. There was no visible advertising for any particular brand of cannabis, and customers were able to either request a product specifically by name or order from a pre-printed menu of available options. People mostly tucked their purchases away, in contrast to the Tweed-branded bags visible all over downtown St. John’s. Many customers left the C-Store and went right into the main grocery store.

In several communities across the province, the C-Store is currently the only physical option for cannabis retail. By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, there were reports that the outlets in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor, both in central Newfoundland, had completely sold out of product.

Terri Coles

Alberta Stores Open to Crush of Customers

EDMONTON—Big crowds lined up at 17 licensed marijuana stores in Alberta for the start of legal sales.

Josh Harnack was one the first customers at one of three shops that the retail chain Fire and Flower opened in Edmonton on Wednesday. The 24-year-old said that by midday the line was taking about two hours, and that a lot of customers were taking their time once they made it inside so they could savor the historic moment.

Fire and Flower Chief Executive Trevor Fencott brought his wife and three children for the opening. Even though the children — ages 16, 13 and 6 — were too young to go in the store, Fencott said he wanted them to witness the sea-change in policy.

—Associated Press

Canadians Mark Anniversary of Death of Cannabis Advocate and Music Legend, Gord Downie

On a day that Canadians are celebrating the end of cannabis prohibition, they are also marking a sombre anniversary—the death of a Canadian music legend. Gord Downie died after a battle with brain cancer one year ago today.

Downie was the front man for the iconic band the Tragically Hip, which had nine albums reach the top of Canada’s music charts.

Thanks to song lyrics that focused on Canadian geography and history, the Hip was described by the BBC as “the most Canadian band in the world.”

Downie, who was 53 years old when he died, was hailed as a poet because his words and lyrics were rich in meaning and allusion.

Downie was an advocate for legalization and had close ties to the cannabis community.

In the 2008 movie, “One Week,” Downie smoked a joint while discussing the use of cannabis in treating cancer patients.

In May 2017, he and his bandmates — Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay — launched a partnership with Up Cannabis, a licensed cannabis producer based in Ontario. The Hip assumed a 6% ownership stake of the company.

“When we started out, we knew we were going to be a national brand so we wanted it to resonate with Canadians across the country,” Jay Wilgar, CEO of Newstrike Resources, Up’s parent company, said last year.

“The Hip has spent time in every small town and big city in every province. The band members understand Canada as well as anyone so they have made a great contribution to our branding and marketing plans.”

Canadians attended several other events honouring Downie in the days leading up to the anniversary of his death, including a concert in Burlington that paid tribute to his work on truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Canada. Downie spent the last year of his life fostering awareness of the legacy of residential schools and the challenges facing First Nations.

Last week, Up Cannabis sponsored an event at which Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! performed the Hip song, “Grace, Too.” Baker and Fay took part.

Randi Druzin

Saskatchewan Shops Experiencing Opening Day Shortages

REGINA—People looking to buy cannabis from a retail store in Saskatchewan on the first day of legalization have very few options.

Only seven of the 51 businesses that were granted retailing permits from the Saskatchewan government are open today. The owner of a Saskatoon cannabis store says she can’t open due to a pot shortage.

Cierra Sieben-Chuback with Living Skies Cannabis Ltd. says the demand has been crazy and she’s sad she can’t open. She predicts the store’s opening will be delayed until the end of the month or early November.

Canadian Press

Recreational Cannabis Stores in Saskatchewan

Check Out the Average Price Per Gram on Day One

As Canada’s cannabis market explodes on day one of legalization, grams, ounces, oils, and seeds are finally reaching the mainstream public. How much should you expect to spend on the average gram?

Cannabis on Canada’s Front Pages

cannabis in canadian newspapers

(J Source)

Canada’s launch of legal cannabis sales was big news around the world this morning, but nothing quite captures the feel on the ground like local media. To that end, the friendly people over at the Canadian Journalism Project’s J Source blog are compiling a roundup of front pages from around Canada.

Who takes the cake? Twitter so far seems to be siding with the Georgia Straight, even though it appears to be a reprisal of an old 2013 cover:

—Ben Adlin

Manitobans Flock to Private Retail Outlets En Masse

winnipeg cannabis delta 9

David Lipnowski/Leafly

WINNIPEG–Steven Stairs a self-described medical marijuana advocate, user, and grower, claimed the honour of being the first person in line at Delta 9 in Winnipeg, MB by arriving 6:30 p.m. the night before and sleeping on the street. Doors to the private cannabis retail location opened at 10 a.m. local time and by 11:15 a.m. lineups wrapped around the building.

Leafly Canada Staff

Torontonians Really, Really Want Edibles

Harrison Jordan, a frequent Leafly contributor and a rising Canadian cannabis lawyer, has been meeting with clients and making the media rounds today. But he’s also taking phone calls. Some unsolicited.

 Cannabis NB Draws Line up on Opening Day

NB Cannabis Store

Jericho Knopp/Leafly

SACKVILLE–It’s chilly in Sackville, New Brunswick, a small university town with a population of just over 5,000 people, but while there are no costumes or parties in front of the new Cannabis NB store, the atmosphere is definitely festive. They started letting people into the waiting room at around 9:50 a.m., just ahead of the official store opening at 10 a.m.

By 10:02 a.m., the line outside had grown to almost twenty people. There were people who looked like they could be Mount Allison University students, as well as people who look like they’re hitting retirement. One of the older men, Les Hicks, says this has been a long time coming. “I’ve been waiting for it to be legal,” he said, “so that I don’t feel like a criminal.”

Ben Rosswog says that he wanted to be there for the historic moment as it happened. While he’s at it, he’s hoping to pick up a few things himself. “I’m going to look at the different extracts and stuff, like CBD oil,” he said. He’s not surprised to see a cannabis store in Sackville, noting that for the size of the town, there certainly seems to be a high concentration of users.

As the first customer leaves the store, holding his purchase in a brown paper bag and white tissue paper, he’s recognized by one of the men in line. “Hey! How’s it going,” the guy in line shouts. The customer replies, “It’s about to be a whole lot better,” holding his newly legal purchase in the air for emphasis.

Jericho Knopp

Online Cannabis Stores Reaching 100 Orders Per Minute

TORONTO—Shopify Inc. says the Canadian online cannabis stores powered by its e-commerce software are seeing more than 100 orders per minute.

The Ottawa-based company’s vice president says the government-operated websites and private retailer portals powered by Shopify have processed “hundreds of thousands” of orders since cannabis was legalized at the stroke of midnight.

Loren Padelford added that these websites have seen millions of visitors from Canada and around the world in the hours since they went live at 12:01 a.m. local time.

He noted that these “strong” volumes were expected and Shopify did not see any technical issues or problems.

Canadian Press

New York Stock Exchange OKs First Cannabis Listing

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: New York Stock Exchange
NEW YORK—On the day Canadian legalization kicked in, the New York Stock Exchange sent a letter to the Canadian cannabis company Aurora Cannabis, officially approving the company’s bid to list its shares on the NYSE. Aurora will become the first cannabis producer to be listed on the exchange. The company’s shares are already available and trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Tom Angell broke the letter on his Marijuana Moment page this morning.

Manitoba’s Ready to Open, but Customers Are Camera-Shy

Hat-tip to Winnipeg Free Press reporter Solomon Israel, who’s covering the opening of a Tokyo Smoke store there in the city. The store looks amazing.

What’s incredible, though, is Israel’s observation a few tweets below, where he finds a line of cannabis consumers waiting in anticipation outside the shop. All of them felt passionate enough to come brave the cold and stand in line. But almost none of them would give their names to reporters, and most shielded their faces when the cameras turned on.

What an amazing illustration of the shame-culture that cannabis has been trapped in for so long. That negativity won’t vanish overnight. But it starts to dissolve today.

Bruce Barcott

Ottawa to Pardon Canadians Convicted of Cannabis Possession

OTTAWA–Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has announced that Canadians convicted of possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis would be able to apply for pardons. “These Canadians should be allowed to shed the burden and stigma of a criminal record,” he said at a press conference Wednesday.

Randi Druzin

Cannabis now Available Alongside Health Food Store Staples in Newfoundland

Terri Coles

ST. JOHN’S–The Natural Vibe on Water Street in downtown St. John’s is one of several Class Three cannabis retailers licensed by the provincial government and regulated by the NL liquor corporation.

In most respects, the store–formerly called The Healthy Vibe before licensing to sell cannabis required a name change–is a standard health food store, independently owned by Megan Kennedy and her mother. The physical cannabis stores in Newfoundland and Labrador are a mix of types: cannabis-focused stores under the Tweed banner, independent cannabis-focused shops, independent retailers like Kennedy who sell cannabis along with other unrelated products, and cannabis stores in grocery stores owned by Loblaw.

Having a store that wasn’t explicitly a cannabis store brought in one middle-agreed couple who didn’t want to be named because they didn’t want to be associated with the product, even if it was now legal.

“I’ve never tried pot, don’t drink, never smoked,” said a woman who said she was hoping to find something that might help her sleep.

That would most likely be an Indica product, a store employee advised–and Indica and Sativa oils were the only products left in stock at the store, which had been very busy for its two-hour opening at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday and doing steady business since re-opening at 9 a.m.

Terri Coles

Cannabis Stocks Down First Day of Legalization

TORONTO—Shares in some of the big names in Canada’s cannabis industry were in the red on the first day of trading following the legalization of recreational pot use.

Shares in Canopy Growth Corp. were down six per cent in early trading, while shares in Aurora Cannabis Inc. were down more than 10 per cent. Aphria Inc. shares were down about seven per cent.

Canadian Press

Toronto Police to Citizens: No More Weed Calls, Please

Police PSAs are often off-key and cringeworthy, but somebody at the Toronto PD is clearly on their game. Because this campaign, which debuted today, absolutely rocks.

 New Guidelines for Cannabis Smoking

When asked about the cannabis smoking rules in Ontario a few minutes ago (it’s legal anywhere tobacco smoking is legal), the province’s finance minister, Vic Fedeli, offered one of the best rules of thumb we’ve ever heard, when considering cannabis consumption anywhere:

“We expect human decency and common courtesy.”

Not a bad rule of thumb for life, actually.

Friendly Stranger Wakes and Bakes

TORONTO–The iconic head shop on Queen Street West hosted a wake and bake in the parking lot behind their neighbour Hot Black Coffee, to celebrate the end of prohibition. Complete with free breakfast burritos, hot coffee, campfire s’mores, live glass blowing, painting and jewelry engraving, the event was a low-key and family friendly.

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: The Friendly Stranger

Wake, roll, bake at the Friendly Stranger. (Jesse Milns/Leafly)

Most people were more interested in the free breakfast sandwiches than the wake and bake itself, but there were a couple joints in rotation–which captured the attention of the media there.

The Friendly Stranger opened in 1994 and has been at forefront of the fight to decriminalize cannabis ever since. Every Toronto pot enthusiast can tell you a story about their first time at The Friendly Stranger, and with the shop teasing a big announcement at 4:20 that they say will “shock the retail environment” it looks like new memories are on the way!

Sarah Hanlon

Brian Mulroney Dives Into the Business

NEW YORK—Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board of directors of an American cannabis company.

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: Ex Om Mulroney

Ex-PM Mulroney: I’m in. (Canadian Press photo)

Acreage Holdings, one of the largest vertically integrated cannabis companies in the U.S., says Mulroney will officially become a board member in November, when the company will list on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Mulroney, who served as prime minister 1984 to 1993, will join other prominent former U.S. politicians in the board of Acreage, including former House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, and former Massachusetts governor William Weld.

The news comes on the day when recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada.

In a statement released by the New York-based company, Mulroney says he is pleased that Canada has taken a leadership role in the field in North America, adding that he’s “encouraged about the prospects of what the end of prohibition” will mean for the country.

Mulroney’s daughter, Caroline Mulroney, is the attorney general of Ontario and has been overseeing the legalization of marijuana in the province.

Canadian Press

Good Morning, Canada! Welcome to the Legal Age

Canadians across the country woke up to legalized recreational cannabis this morning, but some hardy Newfoundlanders stayed up late Tuesday to witness a moment in national history.

“I’m having a plaque made with the date and time and everything,” Ian Power, who was first in line outside a St. John’s cannabis shop that opened at 12 a.m. local time, said after his purchase.

“This is never actually going to be smoked. I’m going to keep it forever.”

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: MacIsaac

MacIsaac: First in line.

Across the country, recreational cannabis can now be purchased legally, with stores opening to excited customers for the first time this morning, and many more people ordering online.

There were early lineups outside stores in Nova Scotia, next in line as legalization worked its way across the country’s time zones.

Among those waiting outside a Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation outlet selling cannabis in Sydney River, N.S., was fiddler and pop star Ashley MacIsaac.

“I don’t need to be a criminal anymore, and that’s a great feeling,” said MacIsaac, who in 2001 had been arrested for possession in Saskatchewan. “And my new dealer is the prime minister!”

Canadian Press

Toronto Goes Legal to Lit Joints, Arcade Fire

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: Leafly bud drop celebration

(Jesse Miln for Leafly)

TORONTO—Confetti and a massive ceremonial cannabis bud dropped from the sky into a celebratory crowd at Leafly’s Bud Drop, a capacity party at Toronto’s Mod Club, at midnight Eastern time, marking the beginning of the legal era in Canada’s cultural capital.

Onstage, the band Dwayne Gretzky jammed on a hometown version of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up,” and the air quickly filled with the sweet smell of combusting cannabis.

More to come in a minute. I’m in the middle of the party and it’s really hard to type.

Bruce Barcott

The Online Ontario Cannabis Store Is Open for Business

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: Cannabis flower packaging
ONTARIO—Online sales commenced at the stroke of midnight as the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website went live. The digital store is the sole source of legal cannabis in Ontario until physical retail stores open in April 2019.

The opening day selection includes a variety of cannabis products including flower, pre-rolls, oils, and capsules alongside a range of ancillary items and accessories.

The online reaction to the digital retail experience has been mixed. While some are still soaking in the significance of purchasing cannabis from the government, other consumers are reporting issues with processing payments or have been swift with criticisms of the site design, selections, and prices.

Leafly Staff

The Celebration Will be Tweeted

As Canada stayed up late celebrating its newfound freedom, residents of the True North took to Twitter to express themselves.

Canadian Cannabis Sales Kick Off in Newfoundland

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: First cannabis sale in Newfoundland

Don Clarke, left, was the first person to buy legal cannabis from THC Distribution owner Thomas Clarke—who happens to be his son. (Karen Silver for Leafly)

PORTUGAL COVE, NL—After waiting in a line that stretched into the dark, some of the first people ever to buy legal adult-use cannabis in Canada filtered into THC Distribution in Portugal Cove, NL, not far outside the provincial capital of St. Johns.

Operator Thomas Clarke—whose initials are, appropriately, THC—opened the doors just after midnight. His first customer? His father, Don Clark.

“This should have happened 50 years ago, but it’s happening,” said the elder Clarke, who said he’s been a recreational cannabis smoker for decades.

The island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador has its own timezone, one that’s a half-hour earlier than Atlantic Standard Time. Because of this technicality, the province is now the first in Canada to be able to legally sell recreational cannabis. On Oct. 17 only, stores were able to open at the special time of 12:01 a.m. They’ll need to close again at 2 a.m. before they can reopen at the normal opening time of 9 a.m.

Thomas Clarke also started a clothing line, and told Lisa Neary, a town councilmember who dropped by to see the shop’s opening, that $5 from every t-shirt purchase will be donated to help community members addicted to opioids.

Clarke has been a longtime advocate for cannabis reform, he said. “I fought for mom-and-pop shops to have the right to sell, and to give back to our communities, and to contribute to the economy,” he said. “I advocated behind the cause for two years, and here we are. I’m so proud here tonight.”

—Karen Silver

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: First customers wait in line

Customers wait in line outside of THC Distribution in Portugal Cove, NL. (Karen Silver for Leafly)

Tuesday, Oct. 16

Dear CBC: These Things Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean

I love me some CBC. But when it comes to cannabis they can get it just as wrong as the New York Times (and the Times is notoriously…spotty on the subject). Last night, on the eve of Legalization Day, the sharp eye of Nick Flood caught and screenshot this laugher:

Well, maybe not a laugher so much as a terrible disservice. Let me just say:


It’s so, so wrong. Let me count the ways.

  • Indica strains are not necessarily higher in CBD. They can vary in THC:CBD ratios, as can sativas and hybrids.
  • CBD doesn’t “block” the effects of THC. CBD can act as a kind of light brake on the more intoxicating effects of THC, and on some of the negative effects like anxiety. But CBD doesn’t cancel out the vote of THC. If you have a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio, that does not mean the effects will be neutral.
  • Sativa and Indica are strains of the species Cannabis sativa. They are not separate species.
  • Sativa strains do not by definition contain more THC than Indica strains.
  • “Sativa L” is not hemp. Hemp is any Cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC. Leafly employs an entire team of cannabis experts, and they have no idea what “Sativa L” is.
  • “THC is a cannabinoid that produces a high.” This, actually, is correct.

We have resources available, CBC. Here are Leafly articles on CBD/THC; the difference between sativa, Indica, and hybrid strains; and a starter kit on hemp.

Bruce Barcott

So What Happens to Dispensaries?

TORONTO—There are dozens if not hundreds of storefront medical marijuana dispensaries around the greater Toronto area. What happens to them on Oct. 17, when legalization kicks in?

They will go away. Most of them, anyway.

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: What about marijuana dispensaries?

Nobody home on Queen St.

“Anyone operating a storefront after Oct. 17 is doing so illegally,” the Ontario Attorney General’s office said on Monday. Dispensary owners who continue to operate past tomorrow risk losing their chance to apply for a license to re-open as a legal retail cannabis store. Currently, Ontario will offer online cannabis sales only, starting Oct. 17. But the province plans to issue licenses to privately owned brick-and-mortar shops later next year.

Toronto Police have always considered the dispensaries to be illegal (and often raided them to press the point), but their legal status remained murky due to prior case law and issues of patient access. Health Canada runs the LP program, in which patients sign up with a licensed producer and receive their medicine in the mail. The national health agency does not license any storefront dispensaries.

Health Canada’s medical cannabis program, by the way, remains the same after Oct. 17.

Those warnings seemed to be playing out on the streets of Toronto today. Earlier this afternoon, a half-dozen individual patients attempted to enter the Broadview Dispensary, on Queen Street not far from Leafly’s Toronto offices. Each buzzed the front box to be let in, but none received an answer or an open door. Eventually they each walked away.

There was no sign explaining why the doors remained closed.

—Bruce Barcott

Pop-up Events Popping in Toronto

Legalization Day parties are happening in Toronto, Ottawa, St. John’s, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and countless other cities tonight and tomorrow.

Some of the hottest events in Toronto include:

Leafly’s Bud Drop. Oct. 16. Legalization kickoff at the Mod Club, Toronto, featuring Dwayne Gretzky. Sold out, sorry, no tickets, even our editors can’t get their friends in. Seriously.

Marijuana legalization day in Canada: Cannabis & Coffee

Seth Rogen should come as himself.

The Great Canadian $25,000 Cannabis Scavenger Hunt. Oct. 16. A street team put up these posters (left) all over downtown Toronto last night. Local shop Cannabis and Coffee is attempting a Guinness World Record in several cannabis categories with a cannabis themed scavenger hunt. I think you’re supposed to dress in Halloween costume as your favorite 420-friendly celebrity. Register on their website to participate.

Live Your Latitude: A Candid Cannabis Conversation. Oct. 16. Six women share their cannabis stories and answer questions in a panel moderated by 48Nrth CEO Alison Gordon and Model/DJ and cannabis advocate Chelsea Leyland. The Drake Hotel Lounge, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Canada’s Legalization Party. Oct. 16. Billed as a “dress to impress” legalization party for professionals, this event by the Entrepreneurship Society and cannabis brand Fireside will include free giveaways, cannabis cooking tips, and a live DJ set—including bottle service. Swank. Things kick off at Love Child Social House at 6 p.m. and the music turns up around 9 p.m., according to the event’s Facebook page.

—Leafly Staff

Past Cannabis Conviction? Answers Coming Soon

The point person for the Canadian government’s legalization of pot says Canadians will know soon what will happen with previous criminal convictions for cannabis possession.

Just hours before recreational marijuana becomes legal Wednesday, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair said answers will be forthcoming shortly that will help Canadian understand the appropriate way those criminal records will be addressed.

The former Toronto police chief says the issue could not be dealt with until the law was changed.

—Associated Press

Territories to Let Towns Block Cannabis Sales

Northern communities will be allowed to prevent retail cannabis stores from opening even after the drug becomes legal on Wednesday. Legislation in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon gives towns the option of voting to block cannabis stores within their boundaries.

Canadian Press

Quebec Cannabis Stores Ramping Up Customer Experience

quebec legalization day

Jesse B Staniforth/Leafly

MONTREAL—When Quebec’s state-run cannabis outlets open Wednesday morning, they will offer some 110 products, from containers of pre-rolled Tsunami brand joints to small vials of cannabis oil.But in a set-up closer to a pharmacy than a wine boutique, customers will have to wait to be served by a clerk who keeps products behind a counter. And they will not be allowed into the shop until they pass an ID check to prove they are of legal age.

Media were invited Tuesday to tour a Montreal outlet of the Quebec Cannabis Corp., the subsidiary of the provincial liquor corporation that has exclusive control over sales in the province.

From the outside, the only indication of what is for sale is a discreet Quebec Cannabis Corp. logo.

In a statement, the Quebec Cannabis Corp. said the stores reflect its mission “to make all the information accessible without encouraging consumption.”

Quebec has priced products starting at $5.25 a gram, taxes included. In addition to the 12 stores opening across the province, the corporation will begin offering online sales Wednesday. Deliveries will be made by Canada Post, which will be instructed to verify the age of recipients.

Canadian Press

Be Careful at the Border, US Officials Warn

US Customs and Border Protection is reiterating that marijuana remains illegal under US federal law.

Executive Assistant Commissioner Todd Owen of the US Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations said it’s still viewed as illegal and possession of it at the border is subject to arrest and prosecution.

Owen says admittance of past marijuana use could make a Canadian inadmissible. He also says a foreign national refusing to answer may make that person inadmissible.

—Associated Press

NHL to Maintain League’s Lenient Approach

winnipeg cannabis

David Lipnowski/Leafly

Canada on Wednesday will become the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. That means it will be available under the law in seven more NHL cities (it’s been legal to adults in Denver since 2012). The move is a step forward for athletes who believe marijuana has been stigmatized and should be accepted as a form of treatment.

“It was so tainted for a long time,” Ottawa Senators forward Matt Duchene said. “And now people are starting to learn a little bit more about it and there is definitely some positive uses to different elements of it.”

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association plan no changes to their joint drug-testing policy, under which players are not punished for positive marijuana tests. It is the most lenient approach to cannabis by any major North American professional sports league.

“The Substance Abuse & Behavioral Health Program for decades has been educating players on using drugs, legal or illegal,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “That process will continue and we will consider what changes, if any, in our program have to be made. But right now, we think based on the educational level and what we do test for and how we test, at least for the time being, we’re comfortable with where we are.”

While the NFL and NBA can suspend and MLB can fine players for multiple marijuana infractions, only a significantly high amount of the drug found in NHL/NHLPA testing triggers a referral to behavioral health program doctors. Retired pro Riley Cote estimated about half of players during his NHL career from 2007-2010 used some sort of cannabis for medicinal purposes, though players suggest use in hockey currently is lower than the population at large.

—Associated Press

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Leafly Canada Staff
Leafly Canada Staff
Leafly Canada is based in Toronto, with correspondents and contributors stretching from Newfoundland to BC. To reach our editorial staff please contact us at
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