When Justin Trudeau’s new-look Liberals moved into power in Canada, plenty of campaign promises followed them. Among the pledges on the election trail was to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Canada has allowed medical cannabis since 1999, so it was time for the recreational law to catch up.
After several years of preparations, the federal governments Cannabis Act will come into effect this Wednesday (Oct. 17). Regulations are in place across the provinces, although some authorities admit to being unprepared at the last minute.
Retailers throughout Canada will be able to legally sell pot. Regulators have placed limits on how much can be sold, and indeed bought. While regulation to manage marijuana will roll out over time, there are some changes that will be immediate on Oct. 17.
“There will be a buzz. Lots of people will be interested in learning more about cannabis, especially those who have been waiting for legalization before trying cannabis products, whether that’s for recreational or health reasons,” said Barinder Rasode, president and CEO of NICHE Canada.
“Another thing I expect to happen is that a lot of professional associations who have been waiting for legalization will start to move forward with their agenda of what legalization means for them. This is where I applaud the insurance industry because it has been very thoughtful for some time about engaging clientele and working with organizations like NICHE to ensure policies and risk mitigation mechanisms are fitting with where legalization is going.”
While police have argued they are not prepared for the Cannabis Act legalization, Rasode believes the insurance industry is. He says insurers and brokers can help make the legalization move more smoothly, especially when considering the assessment of risk.
One problem facing the Cannabis Act is that the law is federal. However, each province is free to create its own regulations on managing marijuana. As Rasode points out, each province is different and will have different laws for policing, retail, and consumption.
“You’re going to have provinces like New Brunswick, which will have many retail stores open upon legalization, versus Ontario, which won’t have any. The age of being able to consume cannabis legally is also going to vary from province to province.
“It’s vitally important for insurance brokers and other industry associations to do a deep dive not only into the federal regulations that are consistent across the country, but also into the provincial and municipal regulations because no two municipalities look the same.”