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Seven Ways Canada's Legal Weed Will Be Different From Colorado's

Canada's federal government has been officially considering legalizing cannabis since 2017.
Canada's federal government has been officially considering legalizing cannabis since 2017. iStock.com/bilgehan yilmaz
Canada became the second country in history (behind Uruguay) to legalize cannabis on a federal level, after its Senate passed a legalization measure on Tuesday, June 19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later announced that regulated sales would be up and running by October 17.

We're no strangers to legal weed here in Colorado, where sales have brought in nearly $5 billion since 2014. But Canada's cannabis market won't look much like what we're used to, or like what the other five states with legal sales are seeing. To ensure that there are no surprises during your next trip north of the border, here are seven ways that Canada's legal cannabis system will differ from ours.

It's good with the man, man
Unlike the United States, where states that legalize medical and recreational cannabis are in direct conflict with federal law, Canada's federal government has been working to end prohibition since Trudeau was elected in 2015. Medical marijuana has been federally legal in Canada since 2008; an act to legalize it recreationally was first introduced in April 2017. A blessing from the feds goes a long way for an industry and its consumers — and that's a blessing that American cannabis companies crave, as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to fight against their growth.

You can order it online
Perhaps the biggest difference is that customers will be able to order cannabis online in Canada, where medical marijuana can already be ordered online. Canadians will have to show proof of age in order to receive their products; the law requires that the ordering party be present for delivery. Although Colorado doesn't allow cannabis delivery (a bill that would've okayed it died in the state Senate earlier this year), California allows medical marijuana patients to order dispensary products using GPS technology, and New York, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon also allow some form of delivery.


You don't have to be 21
Another major difference between recreational cannabis sales in Canada and America will be the age at which you can buy legal pot. Some U.S. states that have approved medical marijuana allow children who are patients as well as those over seventeen to use it for treatment, but any state that has legalized it recreationally has implemented an age limit of 21. The Canadian federal government's minimum age for retail pot use is eighteen, though it allows provinces to alter the age limit, and many are expected to add at least one year to it.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell