Reports are saying that Canada is set to legalize marijuana by next spring. Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott recently announced that Canada’s Liberal Party will introduce a new legislation in 2017 that aims to legalize recreational marijuana.
Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Philpott said this law is intended to “keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals.” However, it was unclear who would be allowed to grow and sell cannabis products.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also promised during his campaign to legalize the recreational use of pot. Canada, in 2001, became the first country to authorize the use of medical marijuana, making it easy for people with life-threatening diseases to alleviate their symptoms.
However, there have been ongoing debates about whether to legalize marijuana, its effects, and how the government plans to regulate it.
Philpott assured the UN Assembly that Canada plans to work with “law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures.” She said they are aware that “it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem.”
The Canadian Health Minister also believes that the policies and regulations they will implement through the legislation will be “the best way to protect our youth while enhancing public safety.”
While its decriminalization saw many supporters, there are also those who worry that the legislation would yield opposite results. A recent poll released by the Angus Reid Institute on April, 20, showed 68 percent of Canadians support the legalization of cannabis. However, Conservative Canadians believe that the use of cannabis will pose serious long-term health problems for consumers. Fifty percent said the law will make it “easier for children to get and use marijuana.”
Even Trudeau’s predecessor was against decriminalizing recreational marijuana.
On the good side, it could attract a lot of people from other countries. “Canada has a lot of options here,” Beau Kilmer, RAND Drug Policy Research Center co-director, stated. “You have to pay attention to what’s going to happen with the regulation and the taxes. That could really shape what happens in terms of people coming in from other countries. You have to decide whether you want to allow that.”
Legalization of recreational consumption of cannabis promises booming tourism in Canada. Washington and Colorado were able to legalize marijuana back in 2013, and since then, the states have seen a positive impact on tourism.
“It’s nice that those experiments are there for us to see what’s worked,” Zach Walsh, who studies cannabis and is a professor at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, explained. “We’ll learn from those and I think because we’re looking at doing it federally and in a more organized way and maybe with a bit more prep time, I think we’ll take what’s worked from those models and make our own.”
The USA may be Canada’s trading partner but it does not mean the two nations will be trading weed in the coming years.
“I don’t see the government legalizing the export of cannabis,” said Eugene Oscapella, a lawyer who specializes in Canadian social policy, adding it is “a criminal offense punishable by life imprisonment.”
Few countries have legalized the use of pot such as Amsterdam and Chile. The use of cannabis is still illegal in most of the USA. Alaska, Washington, and Colorado are the only states in the US where cannabis is legal for medical and recreational purposes, with restrictions.
Cities such as Maine, Portland, and Washington, D.C. have also authorized the use of marijuana, while California and Vermont have expressed the possibility of legalizing it in the near future.
[Photos by Michel Porro and S. Badz/Getty Images]