Canada Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Nationwide
On Wednesday, Oct 17, Canada legalized the possession and usage of recreational marijuana across all ten of its provinces. The nation became the first major power to permit the drug, with Uruguay being the only other country in the world that also allows marijuana usage. The legalization comes as a great victory for the Administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who championed the idea during his election.
The momentous day for weed loving Canadians was marked by huge queues outside both public and privately owned Cannabis retailers. In Montreal, one customer, Marco Beaulieu, declared “I have never felt so proud to be Canadian,” and another called it a “historic moment.”
The Canadian government has put in place a large amount of regulation to limit the size of production and consumption of Marijuana. According to legislation passed by the Senate in June, Adults over the age of 18 may possess no more than 30 grams of pot and can cultivate up to four Cannabis plants for their own use. In addition, to crack down on the black market, buying from unlicensed dealers or dispensaries can result in harsh penalties, including jail time.
For the Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau, the legalization of pot is not just a moral victory, but an economic one. The new cannabis sector in Canada is expected to be a 4 billion dollar industry and a major new source of revenue for the government. On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau declared, “Profits out of the hands of criminals. Protection for our kids. Today cannabis is legalized and regulated across Canada.”
The criminal justice system of Canada is also taking the major step of offering pardons to those who had been convicted of possessing small amounts of the drug in the past. Authorities declared that the government would remove the 631 Canadian Dollar fee to apply for a pardon, as well as a five-year wait to receive one. These pardons would serve to help thousands of Canadians by cleaning their records and making them eligible for more employment opportunities.
Despite the precautions being taken by the government, many doubt that legalization was the right step for Canada. The Canadian Medical Association Journal, which contains some of the nations top physicians and scientists, released an editorial warning about the dangers of legal marijuana. The piece claimed that legalization was a, “a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”
It is not just the medical community that is concerned about marijuana legalization. Police are worried about the possibility of an uptick of people driving under the influence of cannabis now that the drug is readily available. Canadian Police forces are being deployed in greater numbers and have received increased training on how to test for the use of marijuana.
Despite the process of legalization being complete, it remains to be seen what effect the legalization of marijuana will actually have on Canada. The control of the Cannabis industries has largely been left up to individual territories to manage, and many citizens are unclear of the regulation. Still, Wednesday was a day for many in Canada to celebrate the prospect of a newly legal pastime.