Heather Callaghan | April 14, 2017
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sticking to his campaign pledge, introduced legislation to legalize marijuana in Canada. But not just medical marijuana – recreational marijuana. A milestone in the country’s history and one for the world, too.
While many countries have decriminalized or allowed the medical use of marijuana, Trudeau’s bill – which is expected to pass – will make Canada the second nation after Uruguay to completely legalize cannabis for consumers. Media is warning that “experts” are working out the kinks before sales can begin. Each province will decide how marijuana can be distributed and sold within its territory, including prices and age limits.
Since this effort surrounds legalization versus decriminalization, Canadians can probably expect high taxes and regulation on the product, similar to Canada’s strict tobacco regulations and government-run liquor stores. However, unlike America, where marijuana is legal in some states but still federally illegal (fueling the War on Drugs and police state policies), Canada’s expected ruling will eliminate a national prohibition.
Households will be allowed to grow four plants and individuals can carry 30 grams or about one ounce. Commercial growers will be licensed and closely watched by the federal government. Illegally run operations will face shut-downs. It will not be sold in alcohol shops. The legal age will be 18 unless changed by each province, and it will still a major crime to sell or give marijuana to minors. While growers are excited that Canada “could be to cannabis what France is to wine,” it is unclear what international policies will be set in stone after Canada’s legalization of marijuana.
Trudeau wants marijuana run more like the tobacco growers – an agricultural commodity with plain packaging and government control rather than bunches of individual brands and outfits cropping up. This has caused some business owners to call his bill “aggressive” and “arrogant.” Medical marijuana growers appear to be concerned about the market expansion.
Canada’s elimination of a national prohibition is not without major concern. While Canada already has more than questionable police powers – this new bill will increase them considerably.
The government wants to know at any given time, how “impaired” people are after marijuana legalization in Canada. “Several police forces, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are testing two types of screening devices that can detect drugs in saliva, including THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana,” reports the NY Times. Motorists will have to relinquish saliva samples on demand to the police and allow officers a breath test for alcohol when stopping drivers – for any reason.
Employers May Overstep Boundaries
Those in the medical field and occupational organizations are decrying work and road accidents related to marijuana legalization. To paraphrase former Congressman Ron Paul, legalizing (or decriminalizing) heroin will not make a non-user suddenly go out and shoot up – it ensures that people are not thrown into the prison system over victimless crimes.
In America, employers want to get into their workers’ Facebook pages and read their credit reports. But coming soon to Canada, the employer may be allowed to test marijuana levels in their employees’ bodies on demand. Is this fair to them or the employees who choose not to partake. It looks like employers will be granted more power over their employees to do random drugs tests simply because of legalization.
While recreational marijuana users can now cheer that their pastime and preferred form of pain relief is less criminal now, Canadians need to ask themselves if the invasive strings attached are worth it. Americans need to ask themselves if they wish to follow their neighbor into legalization.