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Canada becomes the first major industrialized country to fully decriminalize cannabis for recreational use on Wednesday, fulfilling a 2015 election pledge from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a process that has proved massively complex and remains fraught with uncertainty.

Concerns abound. Already there are worries about a shortage of legal cannabis for sale in the early months of legalization and a lack of retail outlets, leading to a possible boom in the illicit marijuana trade the new law is designed to thwart.

Canada’s 13 provinces and territories are tasked with regulating the distribution and sale of cannabis, and they are adopting differing approaches. And Canadians crossing into the United States might be barred entry if they admit to using cannabis.

Under legislation passed by Canada’s Parliament in June, it will no longer be illegal for adults to purchase, possess or grow recreational cannabis, starting Wednesday. It is a far broader legalization process than what has taken place in the United States, where nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational pot but federal law still treats it as an illegal Schedule 1 substance.



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