Legalization of Marijuana in Canada

Marijuana use has been proven to have healthy benefits by recent and past research. Marijuana when taken raw has a lot of nutritive value- for example marijuana has a very high percentage of anti-oxidants which help boost the immune system. Medically, marijuana relieves pain say for terminal cancer patients recovering after chemotherapy. Marijuana also helps reduce stress levels and is usually prescribed for people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The present drug laws are doing more harm than good. Therefore it should be legalized in Canada so as to realize its benefits.

Is Marijuana Legal in Canada?

As the drug is still illegal, the people engaged in the distribution of recreational (non-medical) marijuana are smugglers, traffickers, illegal peddlers and the like forming a number of organized crime units and cartels all over the country (Hajizadeh,2016). This scenario is known as the capitalist control theory. Currently marijuana use in Canada is illegal except for medical purposes. The Canadian Government through the ruling Liberal Party has set in motion a bill in the works and the announcement was made on 20th April 2016 which will start officially as from spring of 2016. 

If the bill will be passed then marijuana use will be legal for any person over the age of 18 for private use. However, much of the details of the legalization at this stage are speculative rather than facts. The Epicurean Theory of Justice states that recreational use of marijuana has no explanation except for the fact that people want to induce a “feeling of by high”. In Canada there is rampant use of marijuana across all age groups all over the country (Osborne & Fogel, 2016).

In June of 2016 the Justice Ministry announced through the media the creation of a taskforce to provide guidance for the government on how to plan the legalization, regulation and restriction of marijuana use in Canada (CBC News, Canada). The taskforce is composed of nine members, five of whom are healthcare professionals and the chairperson is former Prime Minister Anne McLellan. The taskforce will have to have a formal report ready by November 2016 because the new legislation will be in place by spring of 2017.  The primary public consultation happened between June and August of 2016.

Legal Status of Marijuana in Canada

An article was published by the New York Times on August 15 2016 giving information on the state of marijuana legalization in Canada. The province of British Columbia has already introduced and implemented their own laws legalizing and restricting recreational marijuana use (New York Times, 2016). This action goes against the federal efforts that created the taskforce in the first place. British Columbia borders the state of Washington which lies to the south and “border laws” have been applied in this case; in Washington the recreational use of marijuana is very legal (Fischer et al, 2016). When cases like these happen there is a very big point of concern. Do bi-laws over-ride state laws or are states like British Columbia passing the law illegally? These are questions that hopefully the taskforce will answer.

In August 2016 Canada’s television channel CTV announced a new stipulation on the bill concerning the legalization of marijuana. Medical marijuana is currently in use in Canada legally by patients who require it and supplied through licensed medical marijuana clinics who have specialist doctors giving the doses (Kalant, 2016). If CTV is to be believed then patients using marijuana for medical purposes will have an option of home-growing the herb.  Of course patients will have to seek permits from the doctors at the marijuana clinics. What is yet unclear is whether the home grown marijuana will be subjected to tax policies. Concerning this, it is best that the patients planning to grow the herb be ready for the worst, because with the government one never knows.

Is Marijuana Legalized in Canada?

There are a number of expected disadvantages of legalizing marijuana. Canada at the moment has establishments and businesses- hotels, lodgings and the like- investing in recreational marijuana. The announcement in April that marijuana would be legalized sparked a “herb rush” where every business that could capitalize started investing in starting establishments that would sell and distribute marijuana. However, the legislation at the federal level has been slow and the boom business expected is yet to arrive. Already, there have been conflicts between licensed clinic owners and prospective businesses. 

On the one hand the clinic owners are united by the fact that they have established cooperatives and unions under which they can lobby the government. On the other hand the new prospective marijuana businesses feel locked out by the cartels (Huffington Post Canada, 2016). There is growing tension between the two groups. For the legalization of marijuana to work well then there must be cooperation between the two parties and collaboration with the government. Most important of all there must be a national coordinating and controlling entity, a commission or so, which hopefully the taskforce will propose to the national government (Fischer, 2015).

Official research and studies have been done on the issue of legalizing marijuana. Among the many conflicting issues in the developing legalization of marijuana procedures is the legal age for use and possession for recreational use. The minimum legal age for alcohol consumption in Canada is eighteen or nineteen depending on the region and province. The question here then is: What should be the minimum legal age applicable for marijuana use? This is where many people will definitely differ. First and foremost the most important factor to consider concerning age is protecting children from the effects of marijuana use. One step that can be implemented is educating the public- primarily parents and schools on the negative impacts of marijuana use on children by active or passive smoking (Kalant, 2016). 

Canadian Marijuana Laws

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is closely following the whole legalization process and recommends that the legal age be made to be twenty one up from eighteen. The likely result in the next few months up to the first quarter of 2016 is that the government will compromise with the CMA on the specific minimum age- all likelihood point towards it being twenty one (Caulkins et al, 2014). There are other health groups proposing that the taskforce should consider a higher age limit; there are suggestions for twenty three or twenty five. It is highly unlikely that the minimum age will be made higher than twenty one based on the current rate of marijuana use in the country which has increased by more than 25% since April (Fischer, 2015).

The advantages of legalizing marijuana could first and foremost mean that Canada would be making the sale of marijuana, medical or otherwise to be taxable. This would be good news for the national government as then it would be very advantageous making money from marijuana which to most part is illegal as of the moment. The process of legalization of marijuana by the Canadian government started partly because the illegal supply, distribution and sale of marijuana is a huge detriment to the economic goals of any country. A lot of money flows in and out of the country untaxed. The government loses a lot of revenue in this manner. 

Service delivery by licensed marijuana clinics has so far been largely traditional. For example if a patient wants some marijuana to alleviate lower back pain he goes to a medical marijuana establishment and consults with the doctor who then prescribes some marijuana and sends the patient home. However, in this day and age of revolutionary technology the traditional means of service delivery is quickly being integrated with tech-savvy features. Very soon every registered marijuana clinic in Canada will have mobile phone, tablet and computer applications which the marijuana user will register their details and be able to make an online request for delivery of marijuana of desired qualities which will be delivered to their doorsteps or workplaces. Hence for established marijuana clinics an enterprises and upcoming ones alike, their management will have to be very flexible to fit in the necessary technology Leyton, 2016).

In conclusion the government has been so far unable to control the use of marijuana in Canada. The people who control it are local and international organized crime groups and mafias who grow rich from the trade. As such the decision by Canada to work towards legalizing marijuana makes a lot of economic sense in that it will bring in a lot of money for the government which so far has remained untracked.

References

Caulkins, J. P., Kilmer, B., Kleiman, M. A., MacCoun, R. J., Midgette, G., Oglesby, P & Reuter, P. H. (2015). Considering marijuana legalization.

Fischer, B., Ialomiteanu, A. R., Russell, C., Rehm, J., & Mann, R. E. (2016). Public Opinion towards Cannabis Control in Ontario: Strong but Diversified Support for Reforming Control of Both Use and Supply. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 58(3), 443-459.

Fischer, B., Kuganesan, S., & Room, R. (2015). Medical Marijuana programs: Implications for cannabis control policy–Observations from Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(1), 15-19.

Hajizadeh, M. (2016). Legalizing and regulating marijuana in Canada: review of potential economic, social, and health impacts. International journal of health policy and management, 5(8), 453.

Information retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/marijuana-legislation-knowns-unknowns-1.3660258

Information retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/04/24/surge-in-storefront-pot-dispensaries-has-caught-some-municipalities-by-surprise_n_9767746.html

Information retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/16/world/americas/canada-legal-marijuana-justin-trudeau.html

Kalant, H. (2016). A critique of cannabis legalization proposals in Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy

Leyton, M. (2016). Legalizing marijuana. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN, 41(2), 75

Osborne, G. B., & Fogel, C. (2016). Perspectives on Cannabis Legalization Among Canadian Recreational Users. Contemporary Drug Problems, 0091450916670393