When Canada officially legalized recreational cannabis exactly two weeks ago, Canadians were engaged in some serious navel-gazing over the effects and ramifications the Cannabis Act would have on their lives.
But at the same time we were trying to figure out what exactly the cannabis rules were for the province or territory we live in and how to actually get cannabis legally, the entire world was watching Canada, and it’s always interesting to see what those on the outside looking in thought of the most historic change to Canadian drug policy in almost a century.
One of those people was popular American YouTuber Philip DeFranco, who has over 6.3 million subscribers and hosts one of the biggest news shows on the platform. On Oct. 24, Philip DeFranco weighed in on “Canada Legalization Wins and Fails” in a six and a half minute segment so, like his catchphrase, “let’s just jump into it”!
First, the numbers
DeFranco said that according to one report, over 111 cannabis retail shops opened across the country on the first day, and the SQDC, which he called a “manager of [cannabis] sales in Quebec” (although it’d be more accurate to call the SQDC a government-run cannabis monopoly), recorded over 12,500 instore transactions and 30,000 online orders.
With the SQDC receiving so many orders, DeFranco said it quickly ran out of supply, and over in Manitoba, the government agency in charge said that shortages could last for months.
DeFranco described Bill Blair as a “Canadian legislator who pushed for legalization” but in reality, the former Toronto police chief (who was the government point man on cannabis) was probably one of the worst people Trudeau could have appointed to the position from the standpoint of cannabis activists, as his only experience with cannabis was busting and arresting those who grew or possessed it- he still maintains to this day that he’s never even tried it.
But having a former cop in charge of the cannabis file gave the Trudeau government some credibility amongst those who opposed cannabis legalization in the first place, and that perhaps made it easier for the government to pass the Cannabis Act, although the Conservatives were still almost unanimously opposed to it.
Mr. Blair was quoted as saying:
“We expected certain strains might run out and there would be a bit of a run on supply. But, you know, they’ve got a pretty good infrastructure in place and I’m confident it will work.”
Time to eat those words. DeFranco said that the strain on the supply chain was so bad that stores in Edmonton closed and one store owner said that the provincial wholesale distributor, the AGLC, had no products to offer.
Oh and by the way, doesn’t the picture of Bill Blair kind of look like he’s having a stroke?
ALCANNA claimed it made $1.3 million in its first 5 days of operations through the five stores it operates in Alberta, and the province sold $737,000 worth of product through its government-run online store.
DeFranco also addressed rumors that Canada paid off its entire federal debt- around $660 billion- one day after legalization, which was posted by a satire website and not true.
DeFranco also reported that Arcview, a cannabis market research group, estimates cannabis will bring in $1.3 billion this year, with Canadians spending $4.4 billion a year on cannabis, according to Stats Canada.
Aside from the cannabis shortages, DeFranco said:
“Some customers complained that online deliveries weren’t working, there were changes in shipping estimates, wrong products were sent, there was no follow-up, and not only that, there was a rotating strike at the Canadian postal service which has affected delivery times as well.”
He also talked about cannabis pricing and taxes and how Canadians were complaining about them being so high that 36% of Canadians said it was unlikely they’d switch over to legal cannabis.
There were also issues over too much plastic and packaging- “over 70 grams of plastic foil and cardboard for just 1 gram of cannabis!”
DeFranco also talked about the impact legalization had on growers, quoting one grower as saying:
“You either went out of business or you got bigger to deal with it”.
He also points out how the activists, growers, and everyone else who fought for legalization are at risk of getting pushed out by much larger corporate interests with deeper pockets.
DeFranco also talks about the international repercussions of Canada legalizing and focuses on South Korea in particular.
When traveling abroad, many countries require their citizens to not only follow local laws, but the laws of their home country, and while cannabis is now legal in Canada, it’s still very much illegal in South Korea.
South Korea is notorious for aggressively pursuing cannabis charges against its citizens who use it abroad, and there are tens of thousands of South Korean students in Canada with many more tourists that visit each year, and the South Korean embassy warned its citizens in Canada that it’s still illegal for them to use it.
If you’re caught, you’re looking at fines of up to 50 million won (roughly $58,000 CDN) or 5 years in jail!
DeFranco’s message on cannabis for South Koreans in Canada:
“Just don’t do it… or don’t tweet about it and don’t have narcs as friends.”
He ends the segment with strong support for legalization and decriminalization, saying:
“It’s crazy to me that marijuana is still so villainized and it’s crazy to me that there are people in jail right now because they had weed on them.”