Canada To Be The First Major Economy To Legalize Marijuana
On Tuesday, the Senate in Canada passed legislation to make it one of the first federal governments to completely legalize recreational marijuana use (1).
So far, over twenty states in the United States have legalized marijuana recreationally and medicinally, but Canada is one of the first Western economies to permit the plant’s use at the federal and national level (2).
The House of Commons approved the bill on Monday, and it then has to go through a formal practice overseen by the governor-general, a representative of the Queen (1).
Once the Canadian government has formally approved of marijuana, it will join nations like Uruguay in allowing its citizens on a national level to use marijuana without fear of detainment (3).
The senator who sponsored the bill, Tony Dean, said: “we’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada, the end of ninety years of prohibition.”
The Legalization Of Marijuana Allows For Public Education And More Responsible Use
Despite its legalization, and despite the studies showing that recreational marijuana use is relatively unharmful, there are still people in government who worry about its effect (4).
However, the end of prohibition allows for public education, studies, and successful harm prevention programs that are sure to have a much better result than strict prohibition (5).
According to Dean, Canada currently has a $7 billion illegal market. However, how the government is going to precisely tackle the industry remains to be seen (2).
Justin Trudeau’s original plan was for its legalization on the 1st of July, but provincial governments need eight to twelve weeks to prepare how they intend to go about selling it (1).
On Twitter, the justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, said the bill for the legalization of marijuana would take funds away from criminals, organized crime, and would protect the youth from the risks of cannabis use (2).
Initially, the Conservative Party, back in 2015, didn’t want to pass the legislation. It was one of the signature pieces of Trudeau’s platform back in 2015 (1).
Still, some people aren’t entirely sure how they feel about marijuana use. One Senator, a Conservative, Linda Frum, said it was a “sad day” for Canada’s children (1).
Drug Prohibition Causes More Problems Than It Creates
Previously, Trudeau said the criminalization of marijuana was a failure because all it did was make organized crime members rich and ruined the lives of people convicted.
Sociologists, criminologists, former police commissioners, and social workers have argued for decades that the prohibition of drugs does more damage than it does good.
Criminologists have argued for a long time that it has allowed for the persecution of African-Americans and other people of color.
And the effect of prohibition has led to users not having any idea of what they’re getting. For example, when an individual goes to a store to buy Aspirin, they know they’re getting a regulated product with a certain amount of milligrams of ibuprofen.
However, imagine if one didn’t know whether they would receive 5000mg or 50mg? The effect would be catastrophic.
In other words, the illegality of heroin allows criminals to sell and distribute a potent drug while users have no idea just how strong it is, leading to overdoses.
How Will The Canadian Government Handle It?
No one knows the precise details as to how the Canadian government will sell and distribute marijuana. But some marijuana advocates think their strict form of control will be a style of prohibition in itself (2).
What we do know, is that the system will sell marijuana similar to cigarettes, with uniform packages carrying health warnings. For the time being, baked goods, edible products, and other forms of THC products remain banned (2).
The government intends to tax marijuana $1 per gram or 10% of total sales (2).
How the Canadian government plan s to sell the product will fall within the discretion of the provincial governments.
Ontario, for instance, will use government operated stores, but Alberta intends to license private sector retailers. The minimum age for its use will be 18 or 19, but the provinces will decide the age, the same for alcohol (2).
The Canadian Medical Association recommended making it the legal age 21.
Some provinces wanted to ban the home-growing of plants, but thankfully the government has allowed individuals to grow up to four plants.
How Much Money Will The Legalization Of Marijuana Make?
If all things work out, Canada might be able to make billions of dollars off this market every single year. Deloitte released a report stating that Canada would receive up to $4.3 billion one year after legalizing it. And consumers will be able to purchase up to 30 grams of marijuana at a time (2).
As it was mentioned earlier, healthcare professionals have been a bit resistant to the idea, but Trudeau, for the most part, hasn’t let that stop him.
Trudeau states that the legalization means people underage won’t be able to get it that easily, and criminals and other bad actors won’t get their hands on the industry as they would have in the past.
Several institutions have made different estimates, including CIBC, who estimated that we would make 6.5$ billion by the year 2020, while the Frontier Data claims we’ll make 9.32$ billion by 2025 (2).
Interestingly, people are expecting this to be in massive competition with alcohol sales, as marijuana will take a big chunk of recreational substance market.
Deloitte asked the federal government to make a plan for the alcohol industry which is obviously going to take a hit.
Canada In Comparison To The United States
When comparing to the US marijuana market, the Canadian industry is still very small, but slowly will overtake it, as the process in the United States is taking a long time.
According to statistical analysis done by BDS analytics, $9 billion was spent on marijuana in 2017 (2).
When Trump left the United States for the G7 summit in 2018, he stated that is going to support the legislative bill which gives the states freedom to legalize marijuana without interference by the federal government.
Most argue that this is “against” Trump’s typical platform. Trump previously said to reporters that he was “looking at it” and would “end up supporting it.”
Jeff Sessions, who is Trump’s Attorney General, has taken a more aggressive approach against states selling marijuana. However, Sessions and Trump are at odds with each other.
Even Trump said that he regretted hiring Sessions.
Trump previously commuted the sentencing of Alice Johnson – with the help of Kim Kardashian – who was serving a life sentence for selling a large number of drugs, but it was her first offense.
But Sessions just ordered federal prosecutors to revisit cases that Barack Obama had gone “soft” on. Trump, opposite of Sessions, said he would review similar cases of unfair treatment regarding marijuana.
During his campaign, Trump said that the legalization of marijuana was an issue for the states, but he changed that once he got into the Oval Office. Later on, he said that he “believed in the enforcement of federal laws.”
As of this moment, over 25 states of legalized either the recreational or medical use of marijuana as of today. One of the Senators, Gardner, said that they’re not trying to legalize it federally, only at the state level.
However, obviously, this would create problems, sellers and users will be on the wrong side of federal law.