NO! that won’t happen, not like in every other jurisdiction where pot has been permitted???? Again, now we have 2 to 3 markets, not just one!
Vancouver, Canada’s Marijuana Capital, Struggles to Tame the Black Market
People smoking pot at a store in Vancouver.CreditCreditAlana Paterson for The New York Times
By Dan Bilefsky Oct. 29, 2018
VANCOUVER – In the pot-friendly city of Vancouver, illegal marijuana dispensaries outnumber Starbucks outlets, and among the most popular is Weeds, Glass and Gifts. There, in a relaxed space reminiscent of the coffee chain, jovial “budtenders” sell coconut chocolate bars infused with marijuana and customers smoke powerful pot concentrates at a sleek dab bar.
When Canada legalized recreational marijuana, on Oct. 17, one of the central aims was to shut down the thousands of illegal dispensaries and black market growers dotting the country. But taming an illegal trade estimated at 5.3 billion Canadian dollars is proving to be daunting.
“We’ll keep selling what we are selling,” said Mr. Briere, who in 2001 was sentenced to four years in prison for being one of British Columbia’s most prolific pot producers.
The Canadian government faces many challenges in stamping out the illegal marijuana industry. For one, there are too many black market shops like Mr. Briere’s for the government to keep track of.
And as sluggish provincial bureaucracies struggle to manage a new regulatory system, licenses to operate legally are hard to come by, giving illegal sellers added impetus to defy the law.
At the same time, the police and the public have little appetite for a national crackdown.
“The government taking over the cannabis trade is like asking a farmer to build airplanes,” Mr. Briere added.
Canadian policymakers say legalization is a giant national undertaking that will take years to be enforced. Mike Farnworth, British Columbia’s minister of public safety, argued that civic pressure and market forces would help gradually diminish the illegal trade.
“It’s a very Canadian way of doing things,” he said. “It won’t happen overnight.” There will, he added, be no mass raids, “guns and head-bashing.”
Nevertheless, he noted, newly created “community safety units” in British Columbia, staffed by 44 unarmed inspectors, have been given the power to raid dispensaries without a search warrant, seize illegal products and shut them down.
In Toronto, police raided five illegal pot retailers, two days after the law went into effect. Dozens of others in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa have voluntarily closed their doors to avoid being shut out of the legal market.
Yet hundreds of black market pot outlets remain defiantly open, abetted by provincial governments slow to implement the new law.
On Oct. 17, only one legal government pot retailer opened in British Columbia, in the city of Kamloops, nearly a four-hour drive from Vancouver. That assured that Vancouver’s illicit trade would continue to thrive.
And that day, none of the roughly 100 illegal pot dispensaries in the city had the provincial licenses they needed to operate legally, even those that had applied for one.
Investigating whether British Columbia residents are violating the law by growing more than four pot plants per household is not a priority, he said.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington State and Uruguay, he added, has shown that “it is naÃ¯ve to think that just because cannabis is legalized, the criminal will walk away from a highly lucrative industry.”
Follow Dan Bilefsky on Twitter: @DanBilefsky.