When the Cannabis Act takes effect on Oct. 17, adults in Canada will be able to legally purchase and consume marijuana in their private residences.

Access to legalized cannabis is set to be the focus of an entirely new industry as each province works out deals for storefronts and online sales. Questions still remain of where customers will be able to purchase cannabis products, and what sort of pricing can be expected.

Legalization is expected to bring drastic changes to existing dispensaries that have been operating in the legal gray area. Currently, a limited number of legal stores in full compliance with the law are set to actually open next month.

Beyond the issue of access through storefronts, a large question mark remains on whether marijuana users will leave behind their black market dealers.

Two newly released studies from McMaster University psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences assistant professor Michael Amlung directly addressed that issue, and bring potentially good news for legal stores.

The first study surveyed 3,000 people in the nine US states where recreational use is legal. A second study was then conducted in Hamilton, Ontario following the passage of the Cannabis Act.

“It was the same pattern of results,” Amlung said in his report to the peer-reviewed journal Addiction journal.

He went on to say, “At lower prices, people tended to prefer the legal option. But as the price escalated above around $10 to $12 per gram, we saw an overwhelming shift toward the illegal option. So we hope that can provide some actual empirical data to help policy makers to decide on the ideal price point.”

The price per gram to be set by the federal government in Canada has not been confirmed at this point, with the $10 a gram price point frequently mentioned but never set in stone.

According to a story from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Amlung is due to present the Canadian half of the study this week at the Canadian Psychiatric Association conference.

That portion of the study is currently under review by the Canadian Journal of Public Health, while the American study’s findings were released to the Addiction journal this week.

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