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Global Stocks Climb Following Two Days of Sharp Losses

World stocks are climbing Friday after two days of sharp losses. Major U.S. stock indexes are up more than 1 percent, but they’re still on track for their biggest one-week loss since late March.

Technology and internet companies were some of the hardest hit over the last two days and they led the market higher Friday. Apple climbed 2.7 percent to $220.18. Consumer-focused companies also rallied, as Amazon jumped 3.8 percent to $1,783.96 and Netflix surged 4.7 percent to $336.30.

The S&P 500 index climbed 37 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,766 at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time. The benchmark index tumbled 5.3 percent over the past two days and as of Thursday it had fallen for six consecutive days. The S&P is down 5.6 percent from its latest record high, set Sept. 20.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 305 points, or 1.2 percent, to 25,358. The Nasdaq composite surged 138 points, or 1.9 percent, to 7,467. The Russell 2000 index gained 17 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,563. That index, which is made up of smaller and more U.S.-focused companies, has fallen into a 10 percent “correction” since reaching a record high at the end of August.

On the New York Stock Exchange, winners outnumbered losers eight to one.

Stocks in Europe and Asia also recovered some of their recent losses. The French CAC 40 and the DAX in Germany both rose 0.8 percent while Britain’s FTSE 100 was 0.7 percent higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.5 percent after sinking early in the day and following a nearly 4 percent loss on Thursday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 2.1 percent and the Kospi in South Korea rose 1.5 percent.

The market’s recent losing streak started when strong economic data and positive comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell helped set off a wave of selling in the bond market. Investors were betting that the U.S. economy would keep growing at a healthy pace. The sales pushed bond prices lower and yields higher. That drove interest rates sharply higher, which worried investors who felt that a big increase in interest rates could eventually stifle economic growth. Higher yields also make bonds more appealing to investors versus stocks.

The worst losses went to stocks that have led the market in recent years, including technology companies, as well as companies that do better when economic growth speeds up, like industrial firms.

Banks rose as they began to report their third-quarter results. Citigroup jumped 2.4 percent to $70.04. Last year’s corporate tax cut and rising interest rates have helped banks make more money.

Bond prices turned lower as the stock market stabilized. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.16 percent from 3.13 percent.

High-dividend stocks lagged the rest of the market, and utilities and household goods makers were little changed. Those stocks held up a bit better than the rest of the market over the last six days. Investors view them as relatively safe, steady assets that look better when growth is uncertain and the rest of the market is in turmoil.

U.S. crude oil added 0.6 percent to $71.43 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 0.6 percent to $80.77 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 112.17 yen from 111.94 yen. The euro fell to $1.1548 from $1.1594.

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‘Winter Is Coming’: Indonesia Warns World Finance Leaders Over Trade War

Just in case any of the global central bankers and finance ministers gathered in Indonesia missed the message delivered repeatedly this week, the host nation said it again Friday: Everyone stands to lose if trade wars are allowed to escalate.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo didn’t mention the United States or China, the world’s two largest economies, but it was clear who he was talking about in an address to the plenary session of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings on the island of Bali.

“Lately it feels like the relations among the major economies are becoming more and more like Game of Thrones,” Widodo said in a speech peppered with references to the HBO series about dynasties and kingdoms battling for power.

“Are we so busy fighting with each other and competing against each other that we fail to notice the things which are increasingly threatening, all of us alike, rich and poor, large and small,” he said.

Poorer and populous emerging market countries like his are among the most vulnerable to the fallout from the ongoing U.S.-Sino tariff war, and rising U.S. interest rates that are drawing investors away and driving down currencies.

“All these troubles in the world economy, are enough to make us feel like saying: ‘Winter is coming,'” Widodo said, using a phrase that characters in the popular fantasy series constantly repeat to refer to spectral dangers that could destroy them all.

With rivalry growing in the world economy, Widodo said “the situation could be more critical compared to the global financial crisis 10 years ago.”

The market ructions have now cascaded through to developed markets with Wall Street extending a slide into a sixth session on Thursday amid the trade war fears.

The United States and China have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods over the past few months.

The tariffs stem from the Trump administration’s demands that China make sweeping changes to its intellectual property practices, rein in high-technology industrial subsidies, open its markets to more foreign competition and take steps to cut a politically sensitive U.S. goods trade surplus.

Rubbing salt in U.S. wounds, China reported on Friday an unexpected acceleration in export growth in September and a record $34.13 billion trade surplus with the United States.

Mnuchin: China trade talks must include yuan

In an interview with Reuters, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he told China’s central bank chief that currency issues need to be part of any further U.S.-China trade talks and expressed his concerns about the yuan’s recent weakness.

Mnuchin also said that China needs to identify concrete “action items” to rebalance the two countries’ trade relationship before talks to resolve their disputes can resume.

The U.S. Treasury chief and People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang extensively discussed currency issues on the sidelines of the meetings in Bali.

Mnuchin’s comments on China’s currency come ahead of next week’s scheduled release of a hotly anticipated Treasury report on currency manipulation, the first since a significant weakening of yuan began this spring.

Mnuchin said re-launching trade talks would require China to commit to taking action on structural reforms to its economy.

If the relationship could be rebalanced, he said the U.S.-China total annual trade relationship could grow to $1 trillion from $650 billion currently, with $500 billion of exports from each country.

G-20 members and trade issues

Meanwhile, the chairman of a meeting of finance leaders from the Group of 20 leading industrialized and emerging economies admitted that the trade tensions within the group could only be solved by the countries directly involved.

“The G-20 can play a role in providing the platform for discussions. But the differences that still persist should be resolved by the members that are directly involved in the tensions,” Nicolas Dujovne, Argentina’s Treasury Minister, told a news conference after chairing the G-20 meeting in Bali.

More than 19,000 delegates and other guests, including ministers, central bank heads and some leaders, were attending the IMF-World Bank meetings, and Widodo asked them to “cushion the blows from trade wars, technical disruption and market turmoil.”

“I hope you will each do your part to nudge our various leaders in the right direction,” Widodo said, adding that “confrontation and collision impose a tragic price.”

The IMF’s twice-yearly report on the Asia Pacific region, released Thursday, warned that the market rout seen in emerging economies could worsen if the Federal Reserve and other major central banks tightened monetary policy more quickly than expected.

At Friday’s plenary, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde estimated that the escalation of current trade tensions could reduce global GDP by almost one percent over the next two years.

IMF forecasts of global economic growth for both 2018 and 2019 were cut to 3.7 percent, from 3.9 percent in its July forecast.

“Clearly, we need to de-escalate these disputes,” Lagarde told the plenary session.

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Musk Rejects Report on Succession at Tesla

Elon Musk replied with a tweet saying “This is incorrect” after the Financial

Times reported that outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. Chief Executive James Murdoch was the lead candidate to replace him as Tesla Inc. chairman.

Tesla has until Nov. 13 to appoint an independent chairman of the board, part of settlements reached last month between Tesla, Musk and U.S. regulators after Musk tweeted in August that he had secured funding to take the electric car maker private.

The SEC settlement capped months of debate and some investor calls for stronger oversight of Musk, whose recent erratic public behavior raised concerns about his ability to steer the money-losing company through a rocky phase of growth.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said Musk’s tweeted statements about going private were fraudulent, allowed the billionaire to retain his role as CEO while requiring he give up his chairmanship.

Musk had said he was considering taking Tesla private at a price of $420 a share, a number that is slang for marijuana. He tweeted the three-word denial of the Financial Times story on Wednesday at 4:20 pm PDT (2320 GMT), about six hours after the newspaper’s post.

In a vote of confidence for Musk, shareholder T. Rowe Price Group Inc. said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it had raised its stake to 10.2 percent at the end of September from just under 7 percent in June.

The Financial Times cited two people briefed on discussions saying Murdoch was the lead candidate for the job. Murdoch, already an independent director of Tesla, has signaled he wants the job, the report said.

The son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch, he joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies. He has no experience in manufacturing and has never led a company that makes cars or electric vehicles.

Murdoch could not immediately be reached for comment. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. Twenty-First Century Fox declined to comment.

​Board roles

Musk is the public face of Tesla, and any chairman would have to contend with his powerful personality. Thanks to his vision and audacious showmanship, Tesla’s valuation has at times eclipsed that of established U.S. automakers with billions in revenues, and the company has garnered legions of fans, despite repeated production issues.

“The question when it comes to James Murdoch is, ‘Is he the guy who’ll be able to establish that level of authority with Elon Musk?’ ” asked Abby Adlerman, CEO of Boardspan, a corporate governance consulting company.

Murdoch, who at 45 is a near contemporary of 47-year-old Musk, recently navigated a takeover battle between Fox and Comcast Corp. to buy European pay-TV company Sky, which he also chaired.

His record in ensuring Sky’s independent shareholders were represented throughout was exemplary, media analyst Alice Enders said.

“His experience is very recent and very relevant,” she said.

Investor concerns that Tesla’s board was too closely tied to Musk led to the company’s addition of two independent directors, including Murdoch, in July 2017.

Earlier this year, leading U.S. proxy advisers Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services and union-affiliated investment adviser CtW Investment Group had recommended investors cast votes “against” the re-election of Murdoch as a Tesla director at the company’s annual meeting held on June 5.

While CtW cited a lack of relevant experience and a “troubled history as an executive and director,” both proxy firms warned that Murdoch already served on too many boards.

Murdoch currently serves on the boards of Twenty-First Century Fox and News Corp. He stepped down from Sky Plc on Tuesday following the completion of Comcast’s takeover of the broadcaster.

He was appointed chief executive of Sky, founded by his father, in 2003, becoming the youngest CEO of a FTSE 100 company.

“Under his leadership, Sky went down the technology route,” Enders said. “It’s no accident he oversaw that strategy, which was really distinct from the strategy other pay-TV companies followed, and in my view was his most valuable contribution.”

Murdoch replaced his father as chairman of Sky in 2007, but was forced out in 2012 after being embroiled in Britain’s phone-hacking scandal. He returned to Sky’s board in 2016 after rebuilding his career at Fox.

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WHO Cracks Down on Illicit Sale of Tobacco

Parties to a new global treaty to combat the illicit sale of tobacco products have taken the first steps toward cracking down on this multi-billion dollar trade.  At a three-day meeting at the headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva they have outlined a plan to shut down the lucrative black market trade in tobacco.

A global tobacco treaty (Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products) entered into force on September 25, with 48 countries joining the new protocol, which is part of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC).  Two-thirds of the parties have enacted or strengthened national legislation aimed at tackling illicit trade in tobacco products.

Parties attending the meeting have set up a working group to create a monitoring system to track and trace the movement of tobacco products. They hope this global information sharing system will be up and running by 2023.  

Head of the FCTC Secretariat, Vera da Costa e Silva, says illicit trade accounts for one in 10 cigarettes consumed.  She says these cigarettes are low-priced and more affordable for young people and vulnerable populations.  She says this results in increased consumption of the toxic product by these groups.

She told VOA the black market in tobacco thrives in both rich and poor countries, but it is a much bigger problem in developing countries.

“In the streets of developing countries, you can see all over the world sales of illicit trade of tobacco products.  They are openly in their markets…. When it comes to the distribution, this is linked to street sales, to bootlegging as well through borders and even to sales to and by minors.  That is a real problem of illicit trade in tobacco products,” she said.

Da Costa e Silva said this flourishing illegal trade undermines tobacco control policies and public health.  She said it also fuels organized crime and increases tobacco profits through tax evasion, resulting in substantial losses in governments’ revenues.   

She said studies show governments lose $31 billion in taxes annually from the illegal trafficking in tobacco products.  

The World Health Organization reports seven million people die prematurely every year from tobacco-related causes.

 

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Top Trump Economic Adviser Denies President Is Pressuring Fed

One of Donald Trump’s top economic advisers says the president is not trying to improperly influence the U.S. central bank.

The director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, spoke to the television network CNBC a day after Trump said the U.S. Federal Reserve is “loco” (crazy) for raising interest rates. On Thursday, Trump continued his attacks on the central bank, calling the Fed “out of control,” but denied he has plans to fire Fed Chair Jay Powell. 

Kudlow said, “We all know the Fed is independent. The president is not dictating policy to the Fed.”  

The Federal Reserve slashed the benchmark interest rate nearly to zero in an emergency, temporary effort to boost economic growth hurt by a severe recession 10 years ago. Since then, the economy has stopped shrinking and resumed growth, unemployment has fallen to historic lows, and wages and inflation have begun to rise modestly.  

Low interest rates boost growth by making it cheaper for businesses and families to borrow money to build factories or buy homes.  Economists warn that keeping interest rates too low for too long could spark strong inflation that pushes up prices and wages so sharply that they damage the economy.  

To fend off inflation, the Fed has been slowly raising rates a quarter of a percentage point at a time. They are expected to continue this effort to gradually return rates to their historic averages.

A common conflict grows out of the fact that incumbent elected politicians get the blame if the economy is not growing strongly. That gives presidents and others a political incentive to keep interest rates low, regardless of the consequences.  

That is why central banks in the United States and elsewhere are often set up to be insulated from political pressure — so they can make decisions based on economic merit rather than potential popularity.

When the independence of a central bank is seriously questioned, markets and currencies can fall, because investors lose confidence in the economic management of a nation.

U.S. stock markets fell sharply again Wednesday with the benchmark Dow Jones industrial average off nearly 550 points, a drop of more than 2 percent.

This was the second sharp loss for U.S. stocks in as many days, with a total loss for the Dow at more than 1,300 points. Many key European and Asian stock indexes also declined. 

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Singapore Airlines Launches Longest Commercial Flight

The world’s longest commercial flight, a 19-hour journey from Singapore to New York, took off Thursday from Changi Airport.

The Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR will touch down at Newark Liberty International Airport early Friday after traveling 15,350 kilometers.

Singapore Airlines previously flew the same route, but abandoned it in 2013 due to high oil prices and the gas-guzzling four-engine aircraft used. 

Singapore Airlines is offering no coach seats, instead stocking the plane with 67 business-class spots and 94 premium economy. Shortly before takeoff, premium economy tickets were going for more than $2,100.

The Airbus A350-900ULR (“Ultra Long Range”) is a new two-engine plane with far greater range and fuel capacity than other commercial airliners. In addition, it has several features that aid passenger comfort during the trip, like hospital-grade air filters, improved pressurization and humidity, and customizable lighting that eases the transition between time zones. 

Singapore Airlines says it plans to add several flights from Singapore to Los Angeles in November, bringing the total number of weekly flights to the United States to 53.

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Losses on Wall Street Rip Through Asian Financial Markets

A stock market rout that started on Wall Street rolled through Asia, driving China’s benchmark to a four-year low Thursday and knocking down indexes in Japan, Korea and Australia.

The Shanghai Composite index plunged 5.2 percent to its lowest level since November 2014, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell by an unusually wide margin of almost 4 percent. Markets across Southeast Asia recorded similar declines.

“Equity markets were pulverized today,” with investors in “full out retreat,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a commentary. The “latest sneeze” from Wall Street “could morph into a global markets pandemic,” he added.

​Interests rates worry investors

Investors are wary of possible further U.S. interest rate hikes, which will raise the cost of corporate borrowing and weigh on economic growth.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said the Federal Reserve “is making a mistake” with its campaign of rate increases. “I think the Fed has gone crazy,” he charged.

“Equity investors are surprised by the pace at which rates have risen,” said Marcella Chow, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in a report.

Tariff fight, too

Sentiment also has been dampened by the spreading U.S.-Chinese tariff fight over Beijing’s technology policy. The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for global growth this week, citing interest rates and trade tensions.

The U.S. Treasury is to release a currency report that some analysts suggest might change the official stance on China’s exchange rate policy. Chow said it was unclear whether the Treasury might label Beijing a “currency manipulator,” a status that could trigger penalties, or whether it could be “another pre-text for the next round of tariffs.”

Adding to potential U.S.-China tensions, the Justice Department announced Wednesday it arrested an official of China’s Ministry of State Security on charges of trying to steal trade secrets from U.S. aerospace companies.

The numbers

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gave up 3.9 percent to 22,590.86 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 5.2 percent to 2,583.46. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 3.7 percent to 25,220.67. The Kospi in South Korea fell 4.4 percent to 2,129.67. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 2.7 percent to 5,883.80. Stocks plunged in Taiwan and fell across Southeast Asia.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks slumped as concerns over rising interest rates and trade tensions caused a sell-off in technology and internet stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst loss in eight months, falling 3.1 percent to 25,598.74.

The S&P 500 index sank 3.3 percent to 2,785.68. The Nasdaq composite, which has a large contingent of technology stocks, was 4.1 percent lower at 7,422.05. It has fallen 7.5 percent in just five days. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 2.9 percent, to 1,575.41.

Apple and Amazon, the two most valuable companies in the S&P 500, each had their worst day in 2½ years. Apple slipped by 4.6 percent while Amazon lost 6.2 percent.

Amazon has soared 50 percent this year, but its stock has fallen 14 percent from its all-time high in early September.

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Trump Calls Stock Sell-Off ‘A Correction,’ Says Federal Reserve is ‘Crazy’

U.S. President Donald Trump said that Wednesday’s stock market sell-off was in fact a long-awaited “correction,” and that the Federal Reserve, which has been raising U.S. interest rates, had gone “crazy.” 

Trump’s use of the word correction to describe the sell-off could be significant. A stock market correction is defined as a decline of at least 10 percent from the high point of the past 52 weeks, suggesting that major U.S. indices have further to fall.

Despite Wednesday’s sell-off, the S&P 500 would still need to more than double its losses. It has fallen nearly 5 percent from its all-time closing high on Sept. 20. The Nasdaq has fallen 8.5 percent from its record closing high on Aug. 29. An additional 1.5-percentage-point fall would confirm a correction for that index.

Stocks have sold off in recent days on worries about higher borrowing costs. A spike in Treasury yields and solid U.S. economic data have sparked concerns that the Federal Reserve may pick up the pace of its interest rate hikes.

“Actually it’s a correction that we’ve been waiting for a long time, but I really disagree with what the Fed is doing,” Trump told reporters before a political rally in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. stock market sell-off on Wednesday saw the S&P 50 and the Dow marking their biggest daily declines since Feb. 8, and technology stocks were at the center of the carnage. Steve Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, said he thought the downturn would b short-lived.

“There’s a greater than 50-50 chance there’s a rebound, if not tomorrow, then the day after, given the severity of the move,” he said.

But some investors and analysts expressed concern about the market’s direction.

“It’s probably the beginning of the correction,” said Oliver Pursche, vice chairman and chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York.

‘Fed is making a mistake’

The Fed last raised interest rates in September and left intact its plans to steadily tighten monetary policy, as it forecast that the U.S. economy would enjoy at least three more years of economic growth.

But those actions have drawn scorn from Trump, who has accused the Fed of moving too fast in raising rates when inflation is minimal and government data points to a strong economy.

“I think … the Fed is making a mistake. They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” Trump said.

U.S. presidents have rarely criticized the Fed in recent decades because its independence has been seen as important for economic stability. Trump has departed from that practice and has said he would not shy from future criticism should the Fed keep lifting rates.

The Federal Reserve is mandated by Congress to aim for low inflation and low unemployment. U.S. consumer price inflation is currently above 2 percent annually and the unemployment rate is the lowest in about 40 years.

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Canada Prepares for Legalized Marijuana

Mat Beren and his friends used to drive by the vast greenhouses of southern British Columbia and joke about how much weed they could grow there.

Years later, it’s no joke. The tomato and pepper plants that once filled some of those greenhouses have been replaced with a new cash crop: marijuana. Beren and other formerly illicit growers are helping cultivate it. The buyers no longer are unlawful dealers or dubious medical dispensaries; it’s the Canadian government.

On Oct. 17, Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace. Uruguay launched legal sales last year, after several years of planning.

It’s a profound social shift promised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fueled by a desire to bring the black market into a regulated, taxed system after nearly a century of prohibition.

It also stands in contrast to the United States, where the federal government outlaws marijuana while most states allow medical or recreational use for people 21 and older. Canada’s national approach has allowed for unfettered industry banking, inter-province shipments of cannabis, online ordering, postal delivery and billions of dollars in investment; national prohibition in the U.S. has stifled greater industry expansion there.

Hannah Hetzer, who tracks international marijuana policy for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, called Canada’s move “extremely significant,” given that about 25 countries have already legalized the medical use of marijuana or decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot. A few, including Mexico, have expressed an interest in regulating recreational use.

“It’s going to change the global debate on drug policy,” she said. “There’s no other country immediately considering legalizing the nonmedical use of cannabis, but I think Canada will provide almost the permission for other countries to move forward.”

At least 109 legal pot shops are expected to open across the nation of 37 million people next Wednesday, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. For now, they’ll offer dried flower, capsules, tinctures and seeds, with sales of marijuana-infused foods and concentrates expected to begin next year.

Overseeing distribution

The provinces are tasked with overseeing marijuana distribution. For some, including British Columbia and Alberta, that means buying cannabis from licensed producers, storing it in warehouses and then shipping it to retail shops and online customers. Others, like Newfoundland, are having growers ship directly to stores or through the mail.

Federal taxes will total $1 per gram or 10 percent, whichever is more. The feds will keep one-fourth of that and return the rest to the provinces, which can add their own markups. Consumers also will pay local sales taxes.

Some provinces have chosen to operate their own stores, like state-run liquor stores in the U.S., while others have OK’d private outlets. Most are letting residents grow up to four plants at home.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, won’t have any stores open until next April, after the new conservative government scrapped a plan for state-owned stores in favor of privately run shops. Until then, the only legal option for Ontario residents will be mail delivery — a prospect that didn’t sit well with longtime pot fan Ryan Bose, 48, a Lyft driver.

“Potheads are notoriously very impatient. When they want their weed, they want their weed,” he said after buying a half-ounce at an illicit medical marijuana dispensary in Toronto. “Waiting one or two three days for it by mail, I’m not sure how many will want to do that.”

British Columbia, home of the “B.C. Bud” long cherished by American pot connoisseurs, has had a prevalent marijuana culture since the 1970s, after U.S. draft-dodgers from the Vietnam War settled on Vancouver Island and in the province’s southeastern mountains. But a change in government last year slowed cannabis distribution plans there, too, and it will have just one store ready next Wednesday: a state-run shop in Kamloops, a few hours’ drive northeast of Vancouver. By contrast, Alberta expects to open 17 next week and 250 within a year.

Unlawful operations

No immediate crackdown is expected for the dozens of illicit-but-tolerated medical marijuana dispensaries operating in British Columbia, though officials eventually plan to close any without a license. Many are expected to apply for private retail licenses, and some have sued, saying they have a right to remain open.

British Columbia’s ministry of public safety is forming a team of 44 inspectors to root out unlawful operations, seize product and issue fines. They’ll have responsibility for a province of 4.7 million people and an area twice as large as California, where the black market still dwarfs the legal market that arrived in January.

Chris Clay, a longtime Canadian medical marijuana activist, runs Warmland Centre dispensary in an old shopping mall in Mill Bay, on Vancouver Island. He is closing the store Monday until he gets a license; he feared continuing to operate post-legalization would jeopardize his chances. Some of his eight staff members will likely have to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

“That will be frustrating, but overall I’m thrilled,” Clay said. “I’ve been waiting decades for this.”

Licensed growers

The federal government has licensed 120 growers, some of them enormous. Canopy Growth, which recently received an investment of $4 billion from Constellation Brands, whose holdings include Corona beer, Robert Mondavi wines and Black Velvet whiskey, is approved for 5.6 million square feet (520,000 square meters) of production space across Canada. Its two biggest greenhouses are near the U.S. border in British Columbia.

Beren, a 23-year cannabis grower, is a Canopy consultant.

“We used to joke around all the time when we’d go to Vancouver and drive by the big greenhouses on the highway,” he said. “Like, ‘Oh man, someday. It’d be so awesome if we could grow cannabis in one of these greenhouses.’ We drive by now, and we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re here.”‘

Next to Canopy’s greenhouse in Delta is another huge facility, Pure Sunfarms, a joint venture between a longtime tomato grower, Village Farms International, and a licensed medical marijuana producer, Emerald Health Therapeutics. Workers pulled out the remaining tomato plants last winter and got to work renovating the greenhouse as a marijuana farm, installing equipment that includes lights and accordion-shaped charcoal vents to control the plant’s odor. By 2020, the venture expects to move more than 165,000 pounds (75,000 kg) of bud per year.

Some longtime illegal growers who operate on a much smaller scale worry they won’t get licensed or will get steamrolled by much larger producers. Provinces can issue “micro-producer” licenses. But in British Columbia, where small-time pot growers helped sustain rural economies as the mining and forestry industries cratered, the application period hasn’t opened yet.

Sarah Campbell of the Craft Cannabis Association of BC said many small operators envision a day when they can host visitors who can tour their operations and sample the product, as wineries do.

Officials say they intend to accommodate craft growers but first need to ensure there is enough cannabis to meet demand when legalization arrives. Hiccups are inevitable, they say, and tweaks will be needed.

“Leaving it to each province to decide what’s best for their communities and their citizens is something that’s good,” said Gene Makowsky, the Saskatchewan minister who oversees the province’s Liquor and Gaming Authority. “We’ll be able to see if each law is successful or where we can do better in certain areas.”

British Columbia safety minister Mike Farnworth said he learned two primary lessons by visiting Oregon and Washington, U.S. states with recreational marijuana. One was not to look at the industry as an immediate cash cow, as it will take time to displace the black market. The other was to start with relatively strict regulations and then loosen them as needed, because it’s much harder to tighten them after the fact.

Legalization will be a process more than a date, Farnworth said.

“Oct. 17th is actually not going to look much different than it does today,” he said.

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