Canada Legalises Recreational Marijuana, Adults Allowed To Buy From Licensed Producers & Retailers
Lifting a century-old ban, Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise recreational marijuana. Under the new law, adults will be able to legally buy cannabis oil, seeds and plants and dried cannabis from licensed producers and retailers. They can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, or its equivalent.
However, possessing more than 30 grams in public, growing more than four plants per household and buying from an unlicensed dealer will attract severe penalties. Anyone found selling Marijuana to minor shall be imprisoned up to 14 years.
Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promise
Legalisation fulfils a 2015 promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who stated that the old laws have been ineffective in combating the problem of drugs in the country. Canadians are among the world’s heaviest users of marijuana.
He argued that the legalisation will help in reducing drug use among minors and will drive out the criminals who sell drugs from the market. The Canadian government is expecting tax revenue of $400m on the sale of cannabis.
Possession of cannabis first became a crime in Canada in 1923. However, its medical use has been recognised and legalised since 2001.
Markets begin sale
Across the country, as government pot retailers opened shows from Newfoundland to British Columbia, Canadians waited for hours in line to buy the first legal joints. Canadian provinces have been preparing for months to handle the aftereffects of legalisation. Public awareness campaigns have also begun regarding the same.
However, the market is still in its nascent stage with analysts predicting a shortage of supply in the first year of legalisation. Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will only begin opening retail stores next year, though residents will be able to order cannabis online.
Major Challenges lie ahead
The step will alter the country’s social and cultural fabric in a big way while presenting a crucial public policy challenge in front of the government. Restricting access of the drug to youth, reducing the burden of cannabis laws on the justice system, and countering the illicit market for the drug remain big issues. Concerns about the readiness of the police to control drug-impaired driving are also prevalent.
Critics have stated that the law can result in a public health crisis for the Canadian population. The Canadian Medical Association Journal called the government’s legalization plan an “uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”
Additionally, if the experiment yields fruitful results, then many other nations are likely to follow suit.
Status of Law in other countries
Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis after Uruguay which did the same in 2013. Many states in the US has also legalised Marijuana.
In April this year, Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa, after Lesotho, to legalise the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
South Africa allows the use of marijuana in private, but it is still a criminal offence to sale it.
Medical marijuana is also becoming popular in many European countries. Portugal and Netherlands have already decriminalised it for medicinal uses.