Marijuana will be legal nationwide in Canada starting Oct. 17 in a move that should take market share away from organized crime and protect the country’s youth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
The Senate gave final passage to the bill to legalize cannabis on Tuesday, legislation that will make Canada only the second country in the world to make marijuana legal across the country.
Trudeau said provincial and territorial governments need the time to prepare for retail sales.
“It is our hope as of October 17 there will be a smooth operation of retail cannabis outlets operated by the provinces with an online mail delivery system operated by the provinces that will ensure that this happens in an orderly fashion,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister said at a news conference that the goal is to take a significant part of the market share away from organized crime.
“Over the following months, and indeed years, we will completely replace or almost completely replace the organized crime market on that,” he said.
Canada is following the lead of Uruguay in allowing a nationwide, legal marijuana market, although each Canadian province is working out its own rules for sales. The federal government and the provinces also still need to publish regulations that will govern the cannabis trade.
Many questions remain unanswered, including how police will test motorists suspected of driving under the influence, what to do about those with prior marijuana convictions and just how the rules governing home cultivation will work.
Canadian marijuana stocks have rallied in anticipation of legalization and jumped again on Wednesday.
In the neighboring U.S., nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana. California, home to one in eight Americans, launched the United States’ biggest legal marijuana marketplace on Jan. 1.