The Canadian government is ready to pardon those with a pot possession record of 30 grams or less as Canada became the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace on Wednesday.
A senior government official said those with a record will be allowed to apply for a pardon. The official was not authorised to speak publicly ahead of Wednesday's announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Wednesday, Canada became the second country after Uruguay to legalise so-called recreational marijuana. Tom Clarke, 43, shop opened at midnight in Newfoundland, Canada's easternmost province.
"I am living my dream. Teenage Tom Clarke is loving what I am doing with my life right now," he said.
Clarke has been dealing marijuana illegally in Canada for 30 years. He wrote in his high school yearbook that his dream was to open a cafe in Amsterdam, the Dutch city where people have legally smoked weed in coffee shops since the 1970s.
At least 111 legal pot shops are planning to open across the nation of 37 million people on the first day, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. That is a small slice of what ultimately will be a much larger marketplace.
No stores will open in Ontario, which includes Toronto. The most populous province is working on its regulations and doesn't expect stores until next spring.
Canadians everywhere will be able to order marijuana products through websites run by provinces or private retailers and have it delivered to their homes by mail.
Longtime pot fan Ryan Bose, 48, a Lyft driver in Toronto, said it's about time.
"Alcohol took my grandfather and it took his youngest son, and weed has taken no one from me ever," he said.
Canada has had legal medical marijuana since 2001, and amid excitement over the arrival of legal recreational pot, many in the industry spent the last days of prohibition on tasks familiar to any retail business - completing displays, holding mock openings and training employees to use sales-tracking software.
US Customs and Border Protection invited Canadian media to a conference call on Tuesday so officials could reiterate that marijuana remains illegal under US federal law and that those who are caught at the border with pot are subject to arrest and prosecution.
Went to the store to pick up a pack of “cigarettes” ahead of #Weedsday. My fave, infrequently visited neighbourhood pot shop will be one of the first to legally sell recreational weed once the government stamps its approval. These joints I bought for work — they’re going to be on TV tomorrow along with 30 grams of bud and numerous pot plants. ALL LEGAL! — #cannabis #cannabiscommunity #weed #legalincanada #potshop #bcpoli
A post shared by Megan Stewart (@mhstewart) on Oct 16, 2018 at 6:36pm PDT
A patchwork of regulations has spread in Canada as each province takes its own approach within the framework set out by the federal government. Some are operating government-run stores, some are allowing private retailers, some both.
Alberta and Quebec have set the minimum age for purchase at 18, while others have made it 19.
"We're not legalising cannabis because we think it's good for our health. We're doing it because we know it's not good for our children," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on the eve of the reform.
"We know we need to do a better job to protect our children and to eliminate or massively reduce the profits that go to organized crime."