In Canada until recently, cannabis was legal only for medicinal purposes and only under conditions outlined in the ACMPR issued by Health Canada. The cultivation of the cannabis is currently legal for seed, fibre, and grain production only under licences issued by Health Canada. In 1923, Cannabis was first made illegal in Canada, and medical cannabis was made legal in 2001. Since 1997, from the different public opinion polls that have been carried out, it has been have revealed that an increasing majority of Canadian citizens do not in any way view the smoking of marijuana as a criminal offence.

Now, recreational marijuana is well on it’s way to being legalized in Canada by July 2018, but sales for recreational use would not begin until July 1, 2018, based on legislation (Bill C-45) passed by the federal government in late November 2017. That of course depends on whether or not the Senate will pass the bill before the end of June 2018.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has proposed a federal legislation to regulate cannabis production. Trudeau explained that the reason of the legislation was not to encourage use of marijuana. The intent is “to better protect our kids from the easy access they have right now to marijuana and to remove the criminal elements that were profiting from marijuana.

Young people have easier access to cannabis now, in Canada, than they do in just about any other countries in the world…the fact is it is bad for the developing brain and we need to make sure that it’s harder for underage Canadians to access marijuana,” He said in 2016. “The other piece of it is there are billions upon billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of organized crime, street gangs and gun-runners, because of the illicit marijuana trade, and if we can get that out of the criminal elements and into a more regulated fashion we will reduce the amount of criminal activity that’s profiting , and that has offshoots into so many other criminal activities.

“The motive was to remove marijuana possession for personal consumption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and now due to the better laws, the punishment for those convicted of supplying cannabis to underaged or others driving under the influence of marijuana have been made stricter.Police representatives in Toronto have made it clear to the media that the unlicensed marijuana distributors have connections to top tier drug traffickers and oftentimes, considering the amount of drugs being sold, to organized crime.The proposed laws by federal government also grants adults the liberty of growing at most, four marijuana plants in their homes. This is not binding on all provinces and Quebec has disallowed its residents from cultivating their own marijuana.The minimum legal age as a standard by the federal government for buying marijuana is 18, but the provinces can raise that if they want to. The federal and provincial governments are also tightening the laws around impaired driving and bringing in a roadside saliva test to check for drug impairment. The federal government is setting up systems to track all cannabis from seed to sale, to license non-medical producers and to test marijuana for potency and quality control.

The federal government has already issued more than 70 licenses for producing medical marijuana, which has been legal in Canada since 2001.By 2006, a substantial proportion of the population was taking Marijuana. They did this despite the risk of police charges for possession, and or selling without the required licence. Statistics from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health survey has shown that, (44%) of Canadians admit to trying it at least once. The CAMH report also shows that by the last year of High School, (46%) of Ontario students admit to having used cannibis in the past year.

As is to be expected, the CAMH discussion includes warnings about the negative effects of cannabis .  A lot of Canadians are also concerned that following the legalization of cannibis, there might be an increase in the number of road accidents experienced and this has been a cause for worry. The number of marijuana users is estimated to increase by 19 percent after marijuana is legalized.Growers that currently produce cannabis have licenses issued by Health Canada under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). By late 2016, there were 36 authorized producers across the country in Health Canada’s list but by December 21, 2017, 82 growers had been licenced under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). This number does not include those issued for producing recreational cannabis.

 A lot of effort is being put in by Canadian cultivators to meet the anticipated demand of marijuana when the new market of recreation customers could start ordering.Canada’s move toward legalization has already inspired one U.S. company, the New York-based alcohol beverage producer Constellation Brands, to buy a 10% stake in the Canadian pot company Canopy Growth Corp. for $190 million.The legislation will eventually be completed by a series of rules and regulations, which means there are still unanswered questions on issues such as the future price of marijuana, packaging and marketing rules, and taxation levels.Despite the noted risks, drug policy experts generally agree that marijuana is relatively safe compared to other drugs, including legal substances like tobacco and alcohol.

Canada’s business groups call for workplace rules around marijuana.Canada, like the US, is part of international drug treaties that explicitly ban legalizing marijuana. And although activists have been pushing to change these treaties for years, they have failed so far — and that means Canada will be, in effect, in violation of international law when it moves to legalize.

(The US argues it’s still in accordance with the treaties because, even though the federal government allows marijuana legalization to continue at the state level by taking a hands-off approach, federal law still technically prohibits cannabis.) Still, the move is, according to advocates of legalization, long overdue.Canada’s steps — from its rebuke of international drug treaties to how it will regulate cannabis — could affect the future of marijuana policy worldwide.On one hand, marijuana prohibition has a lot of costs.

In Canada, tens of thousands of people are arrested for marijuana offenses each year, ripping communities and families apart as people are thrown in jail or prison and gain criminal records. Enforcement of these laws also costs money, while legalizing and taxing marijuana could bring in extra revenues.In moving forward, the Canadian government is now walking a fine line: It is hoping to legalize marijuana to clamp down on the black market for cannabis and provide a safe outlet of cannabis for adults, but it’s risking making pot more accessible to kids and people with drug use disordersA recent government estimate indicates that the illegal marijuana industry is worth $7-billion per year.The Task Force report recommended that high-potency cannabis (with a high THC content) be taxed at a higher level than the conventional product to make it less attractive to consumers.And although marijuana isn’t very dangerous compared to some drugs, some of its risks include: dependence and overuse , accidents, non-deadly overdoses that lead to mental anguish and anxiety, and, in rare cases, psychotic episodes.

It is less likely to cause deadly accidents than alcohol, which is legal.Among the risks, drug policy experts emphasize the risk of dependence. That the research on marijuana is still fairly weak is another cause for concern.  There have been regulatory hurdles to marijuana research in the US due to prohibition, this has inhibited major studies on the drug’s long-term risks and benefits. It’s possible that with more study, and more potent drug forms new risk will surface.


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