Using marijuana for medical reasons has been legal in Canada since 2001. The 2017 records form country’s National Statistics Office show that 4.9 million citizens consumed more than 20 mg of cannabis per person. Canucks have believed in the benefits of using the plant for many years, and have been pushing for its widespread legalisation for a long, long time.
On 17 October 2018, this is exactly what happened as the Cannabis Act was unrolled. Adults are now permitted to carry and share 30 grams of marijuana, which amounts to about 60 regular-sized joints. As Canada became the second (after Uruguay) country to legalise a nationwide cannabis market, and the first G7 nation to do so, there was widespread celebration. There have been a lot of questions over the details of this historic policy, so we’ve answered as many of them as possible for you.
Q: How Did the Laws Come About?
A: The Senate passed the legalisation of the drug for recreational use in June 2018. During his campaign Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to curb crime related to marijuana, and to keep it away from underage users.
In a tweet that announced the Senate’s passing of the Bill in June, Trudeau used the hashtag #PromiseKept. As well as celebrating being able to enjoy the relaxing effects of the plant, Canadians are probably looking forward to the economic benefits of regulating the market.
Q: Who Can Buy Cannabis Products?
A: Adults can make these purchases; minors may not. Producing, selling, distributing or buying is not prohibited for anyone who is not of legal age – this is 18 in Quebec and Alberta, and 19 in the rest of Canada.
Q: What Products Will Be Available?
A: Initially, the selection will be limited to oil and dried or fresh flowers from the plants along with pre-rolled joints. In a year’s time edibles that have been infused with pot such as coffee (which seems a little ironic) and peanut butter will be for sale. Infused jelly beans will also be available, which could address the issues of getting stoned and the ensuing munchies in one fell swoop.
Q: How Will it be Regulated?
A: Very strictly, in a nutshell. Driving under the influence of marijuana will be illegal, just as it is with alcohol. This will be enforced with saliva tests, and the penalties will stiff. Retailers will need to be regulated by provinces and territories, and producers will have to hold federal licences.
As well as this restriction, alcohol and cigarettes will never be sold in the same place as the so-called “wacky tobaccy”. No borders can be crossed with any amount of the substance either, whether you are entering or exiting Canada. The hope is that people will behave sensibly; you don’t drink too much before placing a large bet at an online casino, so don’t smoke or eat a cookie either.
Q: What About Previous Convictions?
A: Ralph Goodale, the country’s Minister for Public Safety, announced in October that anyone with a previous “simple conviction” of possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana would be allowed to apply for a pardon. There are no waiting periods or fees attached to this.
Q: Is Everyone Happy with the Laws?
A: Many people regard this as yet another progressive step forward for the liberal-minded nation of Canada. As Marco Beaulieu said while waiting outside a government retailer in Montreal, the country had gay and abortion rights already, and now people could “smoke pot” without worrying about being arrested.
As well as human rights advocates, many people in health professions point to the long history of using marijuana for pain relief, and to the myriad health benefits now being attributed to help oil. However, not everyone feels so positively.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal, for example, published an opinion piece calling the legalisation plan an “uncontrolled experiment”. They further asserted that profits had been prioritised over citizens’ health.
Q: What are the Expected Profits?
A: There may be strong opinions on both sides of this issue, but its economic benefits cannot be designed. The so-called “green rush” has already been seen in US states where recreational use is legal, and the industry is expected to be worth C$6.5 billion by 2020.
Indeed, part of why Trudeau pledged to legalise marijuana in the first place was, as mentioned, to stop illegal traffickers from profiteering. Just as unregulated online casinos can be very troublesome for players, so can a laissez-faire cannabis market be harmful. You have less idea of the product you are buying, and no recourse if anything goes wrong.
Some argue that the new regulations usher in a wave of freedom and prosperity, and liken it to the end of prohibition in the United States during the 1930s. Others are suggesting that it could all go wrong, although this hasn’t yet been the case elsewhere. Time will tell, and we will have to wait and see. We’re happy to drink, or perhaps smoke, to that.