The ‘Cannabis Economy’ experiment by Canada — Recreational Marijuana legalized

Differing from the earlier policy of marijuana prohibition for recreational purposes as it wasn’t working, the Canadian government passed a legislation legalizing pot or recreational marijuana on 17-10-2018. The amendment was introduced through the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018 (Bill No. 36)[1]. However, medical usage of cannabis has been legal in the country since 2001.

Highlights:

  1. Adults will be able to buy cannabis from licensed producers and retailers.
  2. The legal age for marijuana use will be 19 in most provinces, and 18 in Quebec.
  3. The permissible possession limit of cannabis public is 30 grams (dried or equivalent form)
  4. It will be illicit to possess an amount, more than the prescribed limit, in public.
  5. It will be illegal to grow more than 4 plants at one’s place or buy from an unlicensed dealer.
  6. It is a criminal offence to sell marijuana to minors with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
  7. Giving flexibility to provinces to modify laws on possession and age restrictions and household cultivation.
  8. Drug impaired driving is still against the law.
  9. A special marijuana excise tax, to be divided up between the federal government and the provinces, will be included in the price; sales tax will be added at the cash register.
  10. Standards and rules for cannabis manufacturing industry (quality, packaging etc.).
  11. Tracking requirements to keep the procured amount out of illegal markets.
  12. Provision for proper educational awareness, counselling and law enforcement to counter harmful effects.
  13. Cross border transportation is a penal offence.

Howbeit, use of Cannabis in enclosed workplaces is still prohibited.

 

Benefits:

  1. Reducing burden on police system and criminal system as a plethora of crimes are non violent and only involve possession of marijuana.
  2. Targeting unlicensed dealers and keeping them from profiting and hence bringing down organised crime.
  3. Preventing consumption of spiked marijuana or inferior quality marijuana that affects the health of an individual..
  4. Keeping the drug out of hands of minors and youth.
  5. Harnessing economic growth out of the industry.
  6. Preventing people from getting a criminal record for mere possession of marijuana.

Thus, the law on legalizing marijuana, sets standards for production of the same, so as to ensure the quality of the drug, keeping in mind public safety. It aims at constructing a specific distribution system so that the drug does not fall into young or wrong hands, and aims at spreading awareness about the harmful effects of the same. It is a national experiment that Canada has embarked upon which might reshape the economic, social and cultural anatomy of the country.


Ed. Note: Canada became the second country to issue a cannabis card to its citizens by legalizing recreational marijuana, following in the footsteps of Uruguay (first country to legalize the same).

 

Whereas, Netherlands, Colombia, Czech Republic and Australia have changed their laws to allow consumption for medical purposes, i.e. medical marijuana at the very least. In Colombia you can possess upto 20 plants/or can have upto 22 grams (for personal consumption), and in Jamaica it is legal to cultivate upto 5 plants for personal use.

Furthermore, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has been advocating for legalization of marijuana in the U.S. and has proposed to regulate it on the same lines as tobacco and alcohol, in furtherance of which, it has been organizing campaigns in New Jersey, New York and New Mexico (to end the Marijuana prohibition).

 

As for India, it is illegal on a federal level, but is ‘tolerated’ in many states like West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha and the North East. Large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild in many parts of northern and southern India, and in holy cities like Varanasi and various north Indian states government-owned shops sell marijuana in the form of bhang.

In North Korea, Cambodia, California technically it is illegal, but the law is not followed in a strict sense.

And, in IsraelRomaniaMacedonia and Puerto Rico, cannabis is totally illegal, but available for medical use in very specific cases, such as severe or terminal illness.

 

[1] Bill No. 36 (Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018), S.O. 2018, c. 12, w.e.f. 27-09-2018.

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