Is Canada poised to become the next North American destination for cannabis?

Canadian leaders could legalize the use of recreational marijuana by as early as next year, according to a Los Angeles Times report. This could pave the way for pot to be sold at pharmacies as well as province-run liquor stores in the country that has legalized medical marijuana since 2001.

The new legislation will likely set local marijuana growers as well as distributors free from the risks that come with the cannabis trade, including being prohibited from opening a bank account or partnering with big investors.

Last April, Canadian health minister Jane Philpott said before a U.N. General Assembly that their country would file legislation in the spring to legalize and then regulate recreational pot.

The Canada initiative would cover the whole nation. On the contrary, in the United States, a given state may do the same but the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin and LSD.

Marijuana generates up to $150 million in sales in Canada, in contrast with the United States with its whopping $4.3 billion industry. At present, only licensed cannabis producers can distribute medical marijuana by mail to those physician-approved to use it, but even that rule is set to change by August with a federal court ruling that orders Health Canada to allow patients to grow their own source.

The plan could open up a big market for U.S. traders who are keen on exploring the opportunity north of the border, according to Chris Walsh, from Rhode Island-based Marijuana Business Daily.

Two years earlier, for instance, Seattle firm Privateer Holdings emerged as the first American company to put up a commercial medical marijuana production facility in Canada.

“It’s a matter of time before medical cannabis is legal in the U.S.,” said Derek Ogden, Ottawa-based National Access Cannabis network chief executive.

The Associated Press reported last January that a year into the experimental run of legal, taxed marijuana in Washington and Colorado, the said states found themselves still competing with the black market.

Since its voters legalized pot in 2012, Washington is said to have been wrestling with legally dubious medical dispensaries and a number of delivery services that advertise selling outside the legal structure. taxes are so onerous that licensed shops find it tough to compete, the report added.

In the medical marijuana front, Ohio just recently approved the bill that allows doctors to prescribe marijuana derivatives for medical treatment. This makes it the 25th state in the country to do so, and follows Missouri nearly two months after it made the same move.

Photo: Cannabis Culture | Flickr

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