The latest on the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada (all times Eastern.)

4:45 p.m.

Ontario has passed its cannabis legislation, firmly establishing the right to smoke marijuana in public in the province.

The bill was put to a final voter this afternoon, hours after recreational use of the drug became legal across Canada.

The legislation loosens regulations established by the previous Liberal regime, allowing Ontario residents to smoke recreational cannabis wherever tobacco-smoking is permitted.

For now, cannabis can only be purchased through the government-run online portal, and private retail pot stores are set to open in the province in April.


4:30 p.m.

Police forces across the country are reminding Canadians about the risks of cannabis now that the drug is legal coast to coast.

While most forces have simply mounted public awareness campaigns largely focused on the dangers of driving high, police in Winnipeg say they’ve issued their first ticket for consuming cannabis in a motor vehicle.

Toronto police, meanwhile, sent out a series of jocular tweets advising residents to stop calling 911 for now-legal activities such as smoking in private homes or growing less than four pot plants.


4:15 p.m.

Canadian investors had few reasons to celebrate the first day of cannabis legalization.

Some of the industry’s biggest names saw their stock prices fall on a down day for Canada’s main stock index.

Shares in Canopy Growth Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. were down 4.3 and 2.9 per cent respectively.


2:30 p.m.

Weed may be legally available across the country, but unlicensed dispensaries in Toronto are still doing business.

While many have closed up shop while they await permits to operate as government-sanctioned retailers, several are still greeting customers.

Some of those making purchases say they prefer the wider array of products on offer at the dispensaries, or else don’t yet trust the official online distribution channels.


1:45 p.m.

Early predictions of high demand for legal cannabis appear to be coming to pass.

Retail stores in Winnipeg say they’re selling out of some of their products and expect more shortfalls if demand keeps up at its current levels.

Provinces including Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia are reporting tens of thousands of sales, largely through online portals, as Canada’s first day of offering legal pot enters its second half.

Online sellers have reported few technical glitches so far despite high traffic.


1:30 p.m.

All legal means of acquiring marijuana on the first day of cannabis legalization are officially up and running.

While online stores opened across the country just after midnight local time, the last of a handful of brick-and-mortar stores that were ready for opening day greeted its first customers in B.C. at 10 a.m. P.T.

That store, located in Kamloops, is the only legal retail location currently approved in the province.


12:15 p.m.

Numbers rolling in on the first morning under Canada’s new regime suggest there’s considerable demand for cannabis products across the country.

Shopify, which is powering many of the provincial online stores, says it is seeing more than 100 cannabis orders per minute. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province’s government-run online store had processed 38,000 orders by mid morning.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick’s Cannabis NB reports an average of 700 live users each hour viewing its website and a few hundred purchases in the first few hours.


11:45 a.m.

American officials say the legalization of marijuana in Canada has not had any impact on traffic flow at U.S.-Canada border crossings today.

Christopher Perry with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency has told a news conference in Detroit that officials don’t anticipate asking Canadian travellers routine questions about their pot use.

Perry says U.S. border agents could wind up making inquiries based on unusual behaviour from travellers or alerts from the canine unit.

He also says that Canadians caught bringing pot into the country risk having it confiscated and could face fines.


10:40 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government’s relaxed pardon laws for simple pot possession will be of particular benefit to young people from racialized or other minority groups.

Trudeau says people in those demographics were disproportionately affected by marijuana possession convictions, and that the new rules should remove a barrier for them.

He also celebrates Canada’s new drug policy era on Twitter with a post that reads “Profits out of the hands of criminals. Protection for our kids. Today #cannabis is legalized and regulated across Canada.”


9:30 a.m.

Stocks for major cannabis companies took a hit on the first day of legalized marijuana.

Canopy Growth Corp. stocks dropped seven per cent when the TSX opened for the day, while Aurora Cannabis tumbled 10 per cent.


9:30 a.m.

The federal government says it will be making it easier for people previously convicted of simple pot possession to obtain a pardon.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced the easing of pardon procedures at a morning news conference alongside three of his fellow cabinet members.

Goodale said the new rules will allow people with pot possession convictions on record to apply for a pardon, for free, as soon as they’ve completed their sentence.


7:15 a.m.

A longtime cannabis user and advocate is among Canada’s first celebrity legal pot customers.

Cape Breton-born fiddler Ashley MacIsaac was first in line on Wednesday at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. branch, in Sydney River, N.S. the only legal place to buy recreational marijuana on Cape Breton Island.

MacIsaac said he wrestled with feeling like a criminal for 25 years, but no longer feels that way now that “my dealer is the Prime Minister.”


6 a.m.

Canada finds itself in an unfamiliar place this morning — on the home pages of major media outlets from around the world.

The BBC, Al-Jazeera, France’s Le Monde  and the Times of India are among those taking notice as recreational cannabis becomes legal nationwide.


5:24 a.m.

Residents of Canada’s most populous province are now able to buy weed from the provincial government.

The Ontario Cannabis Store’s website went live around midnight Wednesday as recreational cannabis became legal in the eastern time zone.

The website offers a selection of cannabis products — including dried flowers and oils — as well as accessories such as grinders, rolling papers and vaporizers.


10:39 p.m. (Tuesday)

Canada has officially become the second country in the world to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.

Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to kick off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time.

Some pot shops in the country’s easternmost province opened their doors at 12:01 a.m. to commemorate the historic event.

Canada joins the tiny South American country of Uruguay in an exclusive club of nations that allow the sale of recreational pot.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press