Canada is set to legalize marijuana usage on Wednesday 17th of October – a political decision which will have a widespread effect not only in Canada but around the world. Being at the forefront of cannabis legalization – as Uruguay is the only other country to fully legalize Cannabis – Canada will have the opportunity to have more extensive research done on the plant, its usage and its users. Most countries have allowed scientists the ability to do research on marijuana but because the plant is not legal in these countries, there are limitations to the amount of research they can do and subsequently, the data gathered will not be as extensive in comparison to that which Canada will have, as there will be a larger pool to collect from.
Early research have shown that in America, States that have legalized cannabis dispensaries have fewer addicts of hard drugs such as opioid and heroine, which means Canada’s healthcare system will benefit from marijuana legalization – not only because of the plant’s health benefits – as less people will be sedated by hard drugs and there will be less cases of drug overdose.
Regardless of the health benefits that is supposed to be garnered by cannabis’ legalization, there are a number of challenges that will face the Canadian government especially provincially as each province try to iron out the legal parameters of how and where the plant will be used. For example, in Ontario, smoking marijuana will be permitted wherever cigarette smoking is. What does that mean for people who smoke cigarettes in high school? Will marijuana smoking be permitted in the designated smoking areas on campus? And if that is the case, would there be any concern for younger children being exposed to marijuana too early?
Similar to the issue of students being exposed to marijuana too early, work places face a challenge in regulating how employees will use marijuana and to what extent. For example, Toronto police will not be able to smoke marijuana within 28 days of going to work. That is four full weeks. Therefore, if you are even a police officer on a two week vacation in Jamaica, you are not allowed to use marijuana or else you could face disciplinary action. In addition to the police force, there are other companies that will try to find ways to regulate marijuana usage among its employees, how will employers regulate who is impaired by marijuana and what if an employee is working from home, how does the employer regulate how this employee uses marijuana?
International relations will become stronger as more countries will look to Canada for information about marijuana and its legalization process. There will also be increased trade between Canada and other countries as states will look to take advantage of Canada’s legal stance on cannabis. We have already seen these scenarios in effect as Canopy Growth recently legally sent cannabis products across the US border to be used for medical research. Similarly, Jamaica recently sent cannabis oil to Canada as requested by Health Canada. These scenarios are favorable for stronger ties between the nation states and could possibly generate better trade agreements and stronger economies for these countries.
Economic development is where Canada will see the biggest change. Naturally the country will become more of a tourist attraction for cannabis consumers around the world which will attract more foreign exchange – think Amsterdam and the red light district.
In addition, the federal government could collect up to a dollar per gram sold (the provincial governments are also set to collect their fair portion of taxes). One of the biggest gains from weed legalization – in addition to being the front runners of marijuana legalization in the developed world and having dibs on the opportunity to have brand development – is the opportunity to have a number of these companies listed on stock markets around the world. This allows the companies continued growth as they receive public funding to develop their products and brand as a whole.
Being a new industry, there will be a lot of challenges for the Canadian government, but one certainty is the fact that there will be a lot of tax dollars to be gained. How these changes are handled and how the tax dollars are spent will determine the success of Canada’s decision to legalize marijuana.