Meanwhile, in the great white north…
Perhaps the best prime minister to ever roam the earth, no other than Justin Trudeau, says that he’s in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana for those over the age of 18. Here is a link to the actual Cannabis Act.
Later this week, Trudea’s government will publish the draft legalization on marijuana. The new rules follow an election campaign pledge from the Liberal Party, which state that Canadian citizens can legally carry up to 30 grams of pot on them. However, it’s still likely that there will be debates about the age requirements for purchasing the drug.
Even if Trudeau favors the the law providing legal access to those over the age of 18, the Conservative politicians and the Canadian Medical Association still propose the age limit to be set at 21, stating that brain damage can still occur for users until the age of 25.
To come up with a compromise, it’s possible that the government could allow Canadian provinces the liberty of determining their own legal cannabis age, in line with the required age for consuming alcohol.
“I think the proposal for the age of 18, or 19 in some provinces, to align with the [legal drinking age] across the country, is a reasonable compromise,” Trudeau said last December. “We know the largest misdeeds of marijuana use happens at a lower age than 18, 19 years of age, and I think this is a responsible approach that we have found in terms of balance that is both practical and useful.”
This is amazing news, clearly, although the cops think that it would add significantly to their workload especially if citizens will be allowed to grow it at home. So the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is requesting the government to rethink their plans of allowing people to grow their own cannabis plants at home. A government task force proposed a little of 4 plants in each home, and an additional limit of 100 cm in height to avoid fire risks. It will still be considered a serious crime to grow, import, export, or sell pot outside the licensed channels.
However, the cops warn Canadians that as of now, using pot is still illegal and anyone who is found breaking the law will have to face the consequences. Canada has one of the highest cannabis consumption rates among the youth which has caused the government ministers to say that criminalizing the drug isn’t exactly effective.
“As we legalise cannabis and make a decision about what age it can be accessed, we know that regardless of the age of the person consuming, that it is a product that has potential risk associated with it,” says Jane Philpott, the Health Minister in an interview with The Toronto Star. "That’s why we are taking a public health approach with a strong focus on public education.”
Philpott also adds, “This is a way of responding to the reality of the fact that rates of use are extremely high in young people and we need to take an approach that acknowledges public health, acknowledges the approach of criminalization has not deterred young people from using it.”
It still remains unclear where people will be able to legally purchase marijuana since some Canadian provinces limit alcohol sales only to liquor stores that are run by the government. The same kind of arrangement may be followed for cannabis sales.
In America, 8 states already legalized it recreationally, while it still remains illegal under federal law. It can’t get any vaguer (and stupid) than that, but Trudeau’s move prevents any sort of ambiguity on their part.
Trudeau appointed Bill Blair, a former police chief in Toronto and a lawmaker, to be in charge of managing the legislation. At a news conference, Blair said that the government hopes to permit legal sales by mid 2018. The Canadian government was put together by a panel of experts although there are still many issues that need to be addressed. Blair says, “We do accept that important work remains to be done.”
The price of cannabis and how it will be taxed will be handled with the country’s experience with tobacco which is strictly regulated. When they tried to discourage smoking by increasing cigarette taxes, this resulted in the rise of a black market for cigarettes being smuggled from other countries including the United States. One of the major objectives of the Canadian government is to prevent the growth of illegal cannabis dealing, they’re going to work on measures that will prevent its growth.
The taxation part is extremely important, as many countries, including the US, can learn about being progressive in their set up, just as Canada is doing on day number 1. They have seen what happens when you try and tax the s&^@# out of a recreational item, it opens up the window for the black market to undercut you, and it provides the margin space to incentivize the black market players to get in the market to begin with. Canada is smart in looking at this first, and not just saying there is going to massive taxes on the cannabis plant and too bad if you don't like it.
As the US moves toward a federal plan, at least for medical marijuana treatments, this will be a key aspect to look at as many lawmakers and states will just make a land-grab type rush for tax revenue. If you push the taxes too high (no pun intended), and too fast, the black market will eat you up. Pay attention Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions, if you get too greedy the black market is alive and well, and just waiting to fill in the gaps on pricing.
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