Canadians can purchase recreational marijuana legally, with the country becoming the second in the world to legalize its use after Uruguay. Just because they arrived at 3:30 in the morning, don’t assume Montreal’s first legal buyers of marijuana are stoners. Call them history enthusiasts, they said.
“I might not smoke it. I might keep it as a souvenir,” said Tonino Ruggiero, who was second in line at one of Quebec’s new, government-run pot stores on Wednesday, Canada’s long-awaited day of cannabis legalization.
“It’s a moment d’histoire,” said Ruggiero, 64. “This is better than the Olympics. Not as good as the Rolling Stones, but close.”
The store he visited, in a hip neighborhood of Montreal, is one of three in the city. By its 10 a.m. opening time, hundreds of people snaked around the block, with police doing crowd control.
Then a cheer went up, and the first customers rushed through the doors.
There are a host of other concerns about legalization – a potential shortage of legal marijuana and the risk of crossing the U.S. border after using cannabis, among others – but few were on display in Montreal.
Once inside the government-run store, located in a commercial stretch known for wedding gowns, customers were greeted by smiling young women in dark-green aprons standing near wall-mounted touch screens.
Through another door was a minimalist, pharmacy-like space, with colorful boxes lining the shelves and more shop clerks.
“They were really cool,” said François-Xavier Monbelli, a 44-year-old wearing Burberry glasses. They asked if people had health problems, or “if you want to sleep, if you want to eat, if you want to think, if you want to be creative.”
Monbelli, 44, flew to Canada from France for legalization day, but, like Ruggiero, he said he would not be smoking his purchase.
Pot and poutine
Later this week there will be more time for celebrations, Monbelli said, including a “festival” that involves walking around Montreal and looking at different street art while smoking pot.
“We finish off by eating poutine,” he said. “That’s nice, no?”