Canada Legalizes Marijuana, Plans To Offer Pardons For 'Minor Pot Convictions'

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Retailers saw long lineups and a wave of online purchases Wednesday as Canadians rushed to make their first-ever purchase of legal recreational pot and witness the historic moment.

Whether Canadians will visit private businesses or government-regulated distributors to purchase marijuana will depend on where they live.

The process, government ministers say, would be similar to the process used to pardon Canadians convicted of engaging in sexual activity with other members of the same sex before Canada passed sweeping anti-discrimination laws.

Visitors who are of age can use pot while in Canada, but they can't take it with them when they go.

The government is also considering a "blanket amnesty" for anyone now facing a pot conviction.

In the US, marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C. for medicinal or recreational use.

"We just made history", said the 46-year-old Ian Power, who bought a gram in St John's, Newfoundland to become one of the first people to buy the drug legally in the country.

Leemon says it remains unclear how someone caught attempting to bring marijuana to a state that allows recreational use would be prosecuted.

Americans looking to get their hands on Canadian weed should be careful, though.

State laws vary in the United States but because USA federal law is clear that marijuana is illegal, that means that even going from, say, Vancouver to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), is risky. In the Netherlands, where marijuana tourism is rampant in Amsterdam, weed is in fact illegal, but personal use has been decriminalized.

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-Travelers can not transport marijuana in or out of Canada.

Doors to the shop opened at 10:00 a.m. today, October 17, after the much anticipated legal cannabis legislation came into effect.

Chief executive of retailer Fire and Flower, Trevor Fencott, said its five stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan are fully stocked but it won't launch its online store for Saskatchewan until it receives more supply. In Ontario it will be the only option until retail stores are up and running next year, with a last-minute policy change unveiled by the new government.

Canada became the first industrialized nation to legalize recreational cannabis on Wednesday, but a lawful buzz will be hard to come by in its biggest cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where stores are not yet open.

"We wanted to make sure that anybody who walked in, whether you were a novice or an aficionado, felt comfortable", said Zanocco.

This was one of the reasons behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's election promise to legalize it for recreational use.

The Quebec Cannabis Corp. said Thursday that some items are unavailable on its website and it expects further product shortages - particularly oil, capsules, atomizers and pre-rolled joints - going forward.

Canada has invested C$274 million to enforce new laws and some provinces have allocated their own funding, but Palmer said police will not crack down on illegal stores right away.

A formal announcement was planned for later Wednesday.

The federal government and many provinces have been cautious, starting with limited stores and products, including no edible pot for a year, and tight control over supply.

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