By Susan Shand
18 October, 2018

Ian Power was one of the first people to buy legal recreational marijuana in Canada, but he has no plans to smoke it. He plans to keep it forever.

Canada became the largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace on Wednesday. Power was first in line at a store in the eastern city of Saint John's, Newfoundland.

"I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall. I'm not even going to smoke it. I'm just going to save it forever," Power said.

Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton applauds after handing Ian Power and Nikki Rose, who were first in line to purchase the first legal recreational marijuana at a Tweed retail store in St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada October 17, 2018. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)
Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton applauds after handing Ian Power and Nikki Rose, who were first in line to purchase the first legal recreational marijuana at a Tweed retail store in St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada October 17, 2018. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

And there was more good news for marijuana lovers. Canada's Public Safety Minister said the government will consider a proposal to pardon those jailed for possessing a small amount of marijuana — as long as they have finished their sentence.

Canada has permitted medical use of marijuana since 2001. For two years, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has worked to legalize marijuana for recreational uses. The goal is to admit society's changing opinion about the drug and to create a government supervised market.

"Profits out of the hands of criminals...Today #cannabis is legalized...," Trudeau wrote in a tweet.

Uruguay was first was the first country to legalize marijuana sales in 2017.

Celebrations on Water Street

As Tuesday night came to an end, hundreds of people were lined up at a store on Water Street in St. John's, Newfoundland. Some people smoked marijuana on the street while those in vehicles sounded horns to show support.

"We just made history," said the 46-year-old Power, who bought one gram of marijuana. "I can't believe we did it"

Bruce Linton, the head of marijuana grower and store Canopy Growth, made the sale to Power.

"It was extremely emotional," he said. "Several people who work for us have been working on this for their entire adult life and several of them were in tears."

Linton said Canada is at the head of the industry because it is federally legal in Canada and federally illegal in the United States.

"The last time Canada was this far ahead in anything, Alexander Graham Bell made a phone call," said Linton.

Bell, who lived in the United States, was a Canadian citizen.

Linton's company recently received an investment of $4 billion from Constellation Brands, which also sells Corona beer and Robert Mondavi wines.

Tom Clarke, who sold marijuana illegally for 30 years, was also one of the first to make a legal sale in Canada. His store opened early Wednesday morning in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland. He made the first sale to his father. A crowd of 50 to 100 people waited outside and cheered him.

"I've been waiting my whole life for this," Clarke said. "I am so happy to be living in Canada right now instead of south of the border."

His father, Don, said he was happy that he was one of the first buyers of legal marijuana.

"It's been a long time coming. We've only been discussing this for 50 years. It's better late than never," he said.

Sales across Canada

The Newfoundland stores are among at least 111 legal marijuana stores expected to open across the nation of 37 million people.

Canadians also can order marijuana products through websites operated by provinces or private sellers and have them sent to their homes by mail.

Two provinces, Alberta and Quebec, have set the age for legal purchase at 18, while others have made it 19.

No stores will open in Ontario, which includes the city of Toronto. The province with the largest population is working on its laws and does not expect stores until next year.

Each province in Canada has different laws, but they all must meet conditions set by the federal government.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

recreational – adj. done for enjoyment

frame – v. to create a decorative border around something

cannabisn. a drug (such as marijuana or hashish) that comes from the hemp plant

tweet – n. a message made on the Twitter message service

horn – n. a wind instrument or something sounding like an instrument