October 17, 2018, the long-awaited day that cannabis goes legal across Canada has arrived and the world will never be the same. With all due respect to the great progress made by Uruguay, who helped pave the way for Canada, it can be argued that the Great White North, by permitting regulated sales to tourists is the first nation to truly legalize cannabis. Whether you consider Canada the first or second nation to end prohibition, the global impact of the first G7 nation to legalize cannabis on the international movement cannot be overstated.

Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberal Party welcomed in legalization by announcing an easier process to pardon everyone convicted of minor marijuana possession charges, a great step in the right direction. There will be many headlines about the jobs and revenue created by legal, regulated cannabis commerce, but those of us that have been activists for any serious length of time, including those of us at the International Cannabis Business Conference, understand that ending harmful arrests and prison sentences are the foundations of the legalization movement.

The New York Times captured the mood of some Canadians who waited in line to purchase legal adult-use cannabis for the first time:

“I have never felt so proud to be Canadian,” said Marco Beaulieu, 29, a janitor. “Canada is once again a progressive global leader. We have had gay rights, feminism, abortion rights — and now we can smoke pot without having to worry police are going to arrest us.”

Kate Guihan, 29, a beautician, had been in line for hours.

She said she planned to celebrate the “historic moment” on Wednesday night with several puffs on a joint. The low cost of government pot, she added, was a big draw for her, along with the fact that legal marijuana was screened and devoid of contaminants found in some black-market marijuana.

“This is a great moment for Canada,” she said. “It will bring in money, help reduce the black market.”

USA Today focused on legalization’s economic impact and cannabis stocks:

Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Canada, a move Wall Street pros say is akin to the end of prohibition in the U.S. back in the 1930s that legalized the sale of beer and booze after a nearly 15-year ban.

Weed stocks, as a result, have been all the rage this year as investors at home and north of the border looked to get in early on the budding but speculative business. A confluence of factors, ranging from Canada’s legalization, pot’s growing use for medical purposes and major investments from big companies like Corona brewer Constellation Brands, has shifted investing in pot from the fringe to the mainstream.

Investors are looking to profit on a new market that generated $8.5 billion on legal marijuana in the U.S. last year and which is estimated to grow to $23.4 billion in 2022, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

Congratulations and thank you, Canada, from everyone at the International Cannabis Business Conference. Our events in Vancouver have given us a great appreciation for the Canadian cannabis community and we are especially proud of teaming up with Canopy Rivers to help a small micro licensee secure the necessary funding to achieve its dream during a pitch panel at our previous Vancouver conference. We look forward to returning to Canada to provide updates on the law and help bring the industry together to craft rules and regulations that work for the entire cannabis community.

Learn the latest about the California and global cannabis industries at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco on February 7-8, 2019. Get your early-bird tickets by January 18th to save. After the San Francisco ICBC, the world’s premier cannabis B2B will head across the pond to Barcelona and Berlin. Join us!