Canada is now the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use alongside Uruguay, marking the start of an entirely new industry.
Newfoundland and Labrador kicked off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time, with Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton ringing in the first sale of legal marijuana at a Tweed store in St. John’s. The hoopla continued with long lineups at marijuana stores across the country, and some retailers saying they had to turn customers away as products sold out.
Here’s a look at how the first day of legal cannabis sales rolled out across the country, as it happened.
4:45 p.m. ET
Warning sign from OCS
Ontario's online pot portal is now telling customers to expect to wait a bit longer for delivery. A red notification atop the Ontario Cannabis Store web site informed customers that the "response to cannabis legalization has resulted in a high volume of orders. Please expect your order to be delivered within three to five business days."
3:15 p.m. ET
Supply shortage creeps in; Cash is king
The Canadian Press reports that one retailer in Saskatchewan said supply shortages prevented her from opening today. CP added that one Newfoundland retailer said it was completely sold out and had started turning customers away, with additional inventory not expected until next week.
Meanwhile, in Calgary, Nova Cannabis CEO James Burns told BNN Bloomberg’s Tara Weber he is confident his store’s supply will hold up until it receives its next shipment Monday. Burns said first-day sales have been primarily cash purchases, adding that his staff has already had to make a bank run due to the volume of bank notes in the store’s tills.
3 p.m. ET
Buying pot vs. Investing in pot
Cannabis sales may be brisk, but BNN Bloomberg's Amanda Lang says investors may still need some time to come around.
2:45 p.m. ET
What's next for Canada's fight against illegal cannabis sales
The legalization of marijuana raises concerns about public safety and what happens to the black market. Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime, and the former Toronto Police chief told BNN Bloomberg that wiping out the black market won’t happen overnight.
2:25 p.m. ET
Tilray not spooked by legalization day dip
Tilray, the cannabis sector’s largest player by market capitalization, took a more than 7-per-cent hit on Wednesday. CEO Brendan Kennedy offered a more long view of what to expect from his company’s valuation.
1:40 p.m. ET
'A lot of curiosity' around cannabis, Alcanna CEO says
BNN Bloomberg's Tara Weber speaks to James Burns, chief executive of Alberta-based liquor retailer Alcanna, which is running several of the 17 brick-and-mortar stores opening in the province. "There was a lot of people who were really looking forward to this day and a lot of curiosity," Burns said. He added the company had to transfer workers from Edmonton to its Calgary store to have enough staff for day one of legalization.
1:30 p.m. ET
Legal sales up and running across Canada
All legal means of acquiring marijuana on the first day of cannabis legalization are officially up and running. While online stores opened across the country just after midnight local time, the last of a handful of brick-and-mortar stores that were ready for opening day greeted its first customers in B.C. at 10 a.m. P.T.
That store, located in Kamloops, is the only legal retail location currently approved in the province.
1:05 p.m. ET
Victoria's marijuana dispensaries in limbo
There are 29 dispensaries in Victoria, B.C., but none of those stores have been authorized by the province to sell recreational cannabis. Across the entire province of British Columbia, there is only one licensed bricks-and-mortar pot retailer, located in Kamloops, on the first day of legalization, CTV News' Robert Buffam reports.
12:40 p.m. ET
Canadian pot demand appears strong on day one
Numbers rolling in on the first morning under Canada's new regime suggest there's considerable demand for cannabis products across the country.
Shopify Inc. says the Canadian online cannabis stores powered by its e-commerce software are seeing more than 100 orders per minute.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province's government-run online store had processed 38,000 orders by mid-morning.
Meanwhile, New Brunswick's Cannabis NB reports an average of 700 live users each hour viewing its website and a few hundred purchases in the first few hours.
12:10 p.m. ET
Some cannabis stocks turn positive
Investor reaction to Canada’s newly legal cannabis market took a brighter turn by late Wednesday morning, with a few stocks turning positive after the sector started the day in the red. Aphria Inc. gained as much as 5.1 per cent after Scotiabank said it was the best way to play the pot sector.
11:25 a.m. ET
California congressman touts his own pot
After congratulating Canada on its "green day," Lou Correa, a Democratic congressman from California, said Canadians would be consuming pot from his state if border policies open up.
"We grow the best cannabis in the world," he told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Wednesday. Correra is seeking clarity from the department of Homeland Security around whether Canadians will be able to cross the border to conduct cannabis-related business activity.
11:05 a.m. ET
Montreal customers say they want to be part of historic day
Outside a marijuana store in Montreal's busy Saint-Catherine shopping district, customers smoked cannabis while waiting in line and said they wanted to be part of this historic day, Bloomberg News' Sandrine Rastello reports.
10:50 a.m. ET
Marijuana on A1?
Here's a look at how newspapers in Canada and the U.S. are marking the historic start of legal cannabis in the country.
10:43 a.m. ET
Inside Ontario's cannabis sales
Ontarians may only be able to purchase legal cannabis online at the moment, but marijuana is still taking up plenty of space. BNN Bloomberg's Jameson Berkow went inside a licensed producer's facility in Mississauga, Ont. for a look at just how much inventory is available.
10:41 a.m. ET
Alberta residents flock to buy pot online
The lineups in front of pot shops in Calgary, where two legal stores are opening, weren't as big as in some of the other provinces. BNN Bloomberg's Tara Weber was on the ground and said there was a bigger turnout online for residents of the province, where 17 stores total open Wednesday.
10:20 a.m. ET
Winnipeg's marijuana stores draw lineups before opening
Marijuana stores in Winnipeg had customers lining up to make their first legal pot purchases on Wednesday morning, even before their doors opened. Bloomberg News' Jen Skeritt described the mood as "celebratory."
10:02 a.m. ET
Ottawa to proceed with plan to pardon Canadians convicted of simple pot posssesion
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, and Border Security and Organized Crime Minister Bill Blair held a news conference on the Cannabis Act. The federal ministers said rules for marijuana edibles will come by October 2019, and said the government plans to introduce legislation that will make pardons available for past cannabis offenses.
9:49 a.m. ET
Cannabis stocks open lower
Shares in Aurora Cannabis Inc., Aphria Inc. and Canopy Growth Corp. opened lower on the first day of legalization. Aurora was down more than 12 per cent, Aphria declined more than 7 per cent and Canopy slid about 6 per cent.
The three Canadian pot producers were the worst-performing companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange this morning.
9:17 a.m. ET
Are Canadians getting ahead of themselves?
AGT Food and Ingredients CEO Murad Al-Katib told BNN Bloomberg that his company is watching the cannabis space closely, but tempered expectations about Canada becoming the world's marijuana leader. While AGT is a global company, the legal cannabis market is still limited to Canada's population of about 35 million, he said.
8:54 a.m. ET
Marijuana stocks trade lower in pre-market
Cannabis stocks were off to a shaky start in pre-market trading Wednesday, just hours after Canada's legalization of the drug took effect. Nanaimo, B.C.-based medical pot producer Tilray Inc. (TLRY.O) underperformed peers, as Canopy Growth Corp.'s (CGC.N) U.S.-listed shares briefly turned positive before giving up the gains.
The sector has been on a tear in the past year, with some pot stocks soaring more than 1,000 per cent. Below is a Bloomberg graph illustrating some of the big gains.
7:55 a.m. ET
Canada's cannabis legalization getting global attention
Canada is on the homepages of media outlets from around the world, including BBC News, Al Jazeera and the New York Times.
France's Le Monde took the opportunity to make a deep dive into how the drug is regulated in countries around the world.
The French newspaper finds that with the Cannabis Act coming into force in Canada, about 1.5 per cent of the global population has access to legal weed
7:50 a.m. ET
It's been almost three years since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals swept to power in Canada, bringing a promise to legalize recreational cannabis with them. On the day when Trudeau delivered on his promise, the prime minister posted a tweet saying profits are now out of the hands of criminals, and that kids are protected with the legalization of pot.
7:13 a.m. ET
Marijuana stores in Atlantic provinces open
Alicia Wright, 38, was the first customer to buy pot at the NSLC Cannabis store in Halifax, N.S. shelling out about $45 for 3.5 grams of pot and a grinder. The lineup was about 130-people deep by the time the store opened at 10 a.m. local time.
Clayton Tierney (left, in photo below) of Charlottetown was the first in line at the retail cannabis store in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Wednesday October 17, 2018. The store opened at 9 a.m. and he arrived at 6 a.m. so he would be the first in line. Unfortunately, his driver's license had expired and he was unable to buy any cannabis.
7 a.m. ET
Buying legal marijuana on OCS.ca
BNN Bloomberg's Jameson Berkow attempted to purchase sativa capsules on the Ontario Cannabis Store website.
In Ontario, legal marijuana purchases can only be made through OCS.ca, which went live around midnight Wednesday. The store's landing page asks customers to enter their birth date to verify that they're 19 or over, the legal age for buying cannabis. The website offers several products including dried cannabis flower, oils and pre-rolled joints, in addition to accessories such as rolling papers and vaporizers.
Private bricks-and-mortar cannabis stores are not expected to open in the province until April.
Wednesday 12 a.m. ET
The Ontario Cannabis Store goes live
OCS.ca is the only way residents in Canada's most populous province can currently buy legal marijuana. BNN Bloomberg's David George-Cosh tried making a few purchases on the government-run website soon after it went live at midnight on Oct. 17.
Tuesday 10:30 p.m. ET/Wednesday 12 a.m. NDT
Canopy Growth's Bruce Linton rings in first legal cannabis sale in Newfoundland
Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton did the honours in St. John’s, Newfoundland at one minute past midnight local time, handing over a receipt to the customer who made the first legal purchase of recreational cannabis in Canada.
Tuesday 7:30 p.m. ET
Aphria, Leafly hold count down parties to legal pot in Toronto
Leamington, Ont.-based Aphria Inc. hosted its “House of Aphria” at an east-end Toronto gallery where about 150 people munched on crispy chicken bao sandwiches and drink special “10-17” cocktails. The company’s recreational brands such as Riff and Solei were artfully wallpapered throughout the gallery’s walls as the DJ blared dance music throughout the night.
Aphria chief executive officer Vic Neufeld held court about two hours before midnight to thank his company’s co-founders as well as the investors, bankers, lawyers, medical patients and colleagues that attended the event.
“For almost 100 years of cannabis prohibition, we are here at the beginning of a new chapter,” said Neufeld. “All eyes are on us as we step into the future and tonight could not be more exciting.”
But if Aphria catered to a more corporate audience, Leafly held their own countdown party down the street at the Mod Club concert hall that was certainly more eclectic. A fake marijuana flower bud was suspended from the ceiling, primed to descend at the stroke of midnight, a wink to New York City’s Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve.
Several of CannTrust Holdings Inc. recreational brands such as Liiv were predominantly featured throughout the Mod Club, included in the swag thrown out by the party’s MC who hyped up the crowd throughout the night.
“At midnight, there’s no more Cinderella,” the MC shouted. “If you smoke weed responsibly, put your hand in the sky.”
With files from David George-Cosh, The Canadian Press, Bloomberg News
Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the stunning formation of the entirely new – and controversial – Canadian recreational marijuana industry. Read more from the special series here and subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest marijuana news delivered directly to your inbox every day.