One year after cannabis legalization, sky hasn't fallen
Published Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:21PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, October 18, 2019 8:10AM ADT
FREDERICTON -- Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of recreational marijuana's legalization in Canada.
"Too many politicians talk about the sky is falling on new initiatives when it's not really," said Green Party Leader David Coon, who says it's been a year of learning.
"It was a good start, but there are still some problems," Coon said. "You know, I'm not one to get all twisted out of shape over problems that occur over the first year of something, after prohibition for decades and decades."
The sale of legal pot looks different depending on the province you're in.
In New Brunswick, there are 20 stand-alone, government-built, stores, but Cannabis NB has recorded losses so far, and the province is now reviewing its retail model.
Former finance minister Roger Melanson says the industry is still evolving.
"We will see more and more people, if they do choose to consume, use the legal route," Melanson said.
In the second quarter of this year, 24 per cent of Nova Scotians reported using legal pot, while 21 per cent of New Brunswickers did. Both of those figures are above the national average of 16 per cent. On Prince Edward Island, the rate of citizens smoking legal cannabis was 13 per cent.
"To be honest, we have not heard a lot from our members about any changes or problems or disruptions in the workplace due to this," said Krista Ross of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.
Ross says many employers already had substance policies in place and they simply added cannabis.
But for others -- there have been disruptions over the last year.
Mary Jane Vapes is 500 metres from a Cannabis NB location. They sell cannabis merchandise, but are not allowed to sell the substance.
The government-run stores can sell both, so they say their business has taken a hit.
"It's hard to compete when I can't be a one-stop shop too," said Mary Jane McKearney.
The Nova Scotia retail model is different.
They aren't stand-alone stores, but separate rooms within several liquor store locations, and NSLC says it's working.
They are looking ahead at a small profit next quarter.
Thursday also marks the legalization of edibles. However, because of the approval process, consumers likely won't seem them on shelves until late December.
New Brunswick doctors are warning about their risks.
"Go low and slow if you're going to be taking edibles, before you jump right in and start consuming it," said Dr. Chris Goodyear, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.