Cannabis legal in Canada: Massive midnight queues for marijuana shops as drug is decriminalised

James Morris

Huge queues formed at cannabis shops across Canada overnight after the drug was legalised.

Canada became the largest country with a national legal marijuana policy on Wednesday.

A number of shops held special midnight openings to mark the occasion, with thousands of people across the country queueing for their first lawful blaze.

Meanwhile, a government official said anyone with prior convictions for possessing up to 30g of cannabis – which is now the legal limit – will be pardoned. A formal announcement is expected later on Wednesday.

Ian Power takes a selfie outside the Tweed store as he lines up to purchase legal recreational marijuana in St John's, Newfoundland (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Ian Power was among the first to buy legal cannabis after midnight. But he had no intention of smoking it. Instead, he planned to frame it.

Speaking in St John’s, Newfoundland, the 46-year-old said: “I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall. I'm just going to save it forever.

Customers line up outside the Natural Vibe store after legal recreational marijuana went on sale in St John's, Newfoundland (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

"Prohibition has ended right now. We just made history. I can't believe we did it. All the years of activism paid off. Cannabis is legal in Canada and everyone should come to Canada and enjoy our cannabis."

The Newfoundland stores are among at least 111 legal pot shops expected to open across the nation on Wednesday.

A depiction of a cannabis bud drops from the ceiling at Leafly's countdown party in Toronto (Chris Young/AP)

No stores will open in Ontario, which includes Toronto. The most populous province is working on its regulations and doesn't expect stores until next spring.

Canadians also can order marijuana products through websites run by provinces or private retailers, and have it delivered to their homes by mail.

People smoke cannabis on the street in Toronto after the drug was legalised at midnight (Chris Young/AP)

Ryan Bose, 48, a delivery driver from Toronto, said it was about time: “Alcohol took my grandfather and it took his youngest son, and weed has taken no one from me ever.”

Canada has had legal medical marijuana since 2001. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government had spent two years working towards expanding that to include recreational marijuana.

Nine US states have legalised recreational use.

Reporting by Associated Press.