The Canadian Senate has passed a landmark bill legalizing the use of recreational marijuana, making Canada the only country besides Uruguay to permit the nationwide sale and distribution of marijuana.
The Cannabis Act, known as Bill-C-45, was a victory for Justin Trudeau, whose presidential campaign included federal legalization of marijuana as a primary objective. Trudeau praised the passing of the bill in a tweet.
"It's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits," said Trudeau. "Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate."
Canada's Federal legalization of marijuana is history in the making, yet met with mixed feelings.
While the initial political response to the bills passing was mixed, it cannot be denied that The Cannabis Act is a historic piece of legislation in Canada.
Senator Tony Dean supported the bill passing. He discussed with reporters the bills benefit from the criminalization and public health standpoint. "It ends 90 years of needless criminalization," said Dean. "It ends a prohibition model that inhibited and discouraged public health, and community health approaches, in just say no."
Senator Leo Housakos gave a less enthusiastic response. "I think this bill does not do what the overarching goal says it does," said Housakos. When asked about the message he'd like to give to the youth, Housakos said, "Be very cautious. Just because it's legal doesn't make it right."
Will legal Canadian cannabis be a boom for business?
But mixed-opinions aside, the bill has passed, and Marijuana is now federally legal in Canada. While the full implications of Bill C-45 are yet to be seen, the cannabis business community is already anticipating some changes
With the passing The Cannabis Act, the number of cannabis-related jobs is expected to rise. That's a good thing for companies like Cannabis At Work, a job recruitment firm that staffs positions within Canada's marijuana industry.
In an interview with Global News, Cannabis at Work recruitment consultant Stephanie Ostrander said the company "receives hundreds of resume's every week from people interested in the (marijuana) industry."
According to Cannabis At Work, these are the top two in-demand jobs for the Canadian MJ industry.
The new jobs available to meet the maturation of the cannabis industry will span a variety of sectors, and each requires different skill sets and knowledge. However, according to Ostrander, these are the two jobs most in demand:
Quality assurance managers and technicians- A position required for every licensed producer of cannabis, quality assurance managers make sure product meets client expectations and good manufacturing practices (GMP) per Canadian regulations. But not anyone can do this job. Quality assurance managers typically hold a Bachelors in Science, and some even have a Ph.D.
Cultivation jobs - These positions focus on the growing of the plant. For employees with a green thumb, it's possible to score a job as a master grower, director or production, or even a greenhouse manager. Technology programs in food science and quality control from schools like Niagara College are an excellent place to get the skills for cultivation jobs.
There are lots of companies hiring for Canadian cannabis jobs, and Cannabis At Work believes the number of jobs will continue to rise.
Companies outside the cannabis industry are scrambling to develop policies to deal with marijuana usage in the workplace.
Now that cannabis is legal for use, companies in Canada are discussing how to solve the workplace challenges of The Cannabis Act.
Chief among employer concerns is how to operate a safe and drug-free environment. To discuss cannabis use at work and other significant issues, The Globe and Mail held a panel in conjunction with the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Panelist Christopher Burkett from Baker McKenzie likened the use of marijuana on the job to alcohol usage. "You can expect your people to come to work fit to do the job," said Burkett. "If they are showing signs of impairment...you can take disciplinary action. All those options are on the table in the same way they would be if someone had gone out and had a six-pack of beer and came back."
The panel also discussed other issues such as determining if someone is impaired on marijuana, approaching employees you suspect are impaired and dealing with the possibility of employees claiming addiction to marijuana.
Cannabis is officially legal, but the journey has only just begun.
The passing of The Cannabis Act is a success for Justin Trudeau, yet also brings a host of pros and cons to the Canadian business landscape. While jobs opportunities in the cannabis industry are expected to increase, public safety concerns and broader challenges for Canada's business environment must also be addressed.
Like all new business frontiers, Canada's move towards full legalization should be handled with the utmost care and attention.