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What is the Structure to Canada’s Legalization of Marijuana?

(Winter 2018) Canada’s marijuana legalization has taken a different form than in the United States. In many ways, it’s inverse. For example, U.S. legalization is largely state-driven and technically illegal at the federal level. In Canada, the feds are spurring on the change. This countrywide acceptance means marijuana can be bought and sold across provincial lines, opening shipment of the drug. The legalization includes e-commerce sales.

Provinces do have some say in the details of the roll-out, however. For example, provinces can add taxes and fees on top of federal taxes. Also, accessibility and legal age is left up to each province. As noted above, for federal purposes the legal age is 18, but some provinces are opting for a higher age of 19 and some provinces are prohibiting the sale of marijuana.

One of the most significant differences from province to province is likely to be found in retail. Some provinces are choosing to issue licenses to stores with the possibility of current medical marijuana dispensaries converting. Others are going to a framework in which the province owns and runs the retail establishment, much like the state-run liquor store model in some U.S. states.

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