Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could make controversial history with marijuana legalisation in Canada.
After nine years of Conservative Party rule, the election of a new (and Liberal) Prime Minister could mean the beginning of a new era for the Canadian drugs policy. As part of Justin Trudeau’s election campaign, he promised that legalisation of marijuana was one of his top priorities. After winning a majority of 184 of 338 seats in parliament, the question that has been surfacing around the globe is: “How and when will Trudeau make marijuana legalisation in Canada a reality?”
Pros and Cons of Marijuana Legalisation in Canada
According to Trudeau and his Liberal Party, “The Liberal solution is clear: If we pass smart laws that tax and strictly regulate marijuana, we can better protect our kids, while preventing millions of dollars from going into the pockets of criminal organisations and street gangs.” It is the Liberal Party’s belief that the current ‘war on drugs’ in Canada is not working. Regardless of the penalties in place for possession and consumption of the drug, there is still approximately 2.3 million users across the country — almost a full 7% of the country’s population — who smoke weed on a regular basis. Almost half of the population (44%) has admitted to smoking marijuana at least once.
Although parts of Canada have legalised medical marijuana, it is still a criminal offense without a prescription. Trudeau has expressed concern for the amount of Canadians with a criminal record for carrying personal-use amounts of marijuana on them. This is, in part, why he wants to push for marijuana legalisation and impose harsher sentences for those who provide the drug to minors, for those who operate a vehicle while under the influence, and for those who sell it outside of the newly proposed framework.
However, despite a majority of Canadian’s supporting marijuana legalisation, the cons do need to be addressed. For starters, marijuana is an addictive substance, and although it not as addictive as some harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin, there is still a 7-10% addiction rate among users. As well, Canadian police forces are concerned with the ability to test drivers who might be driving under the influence.
When the American state of Colorado introduced marijuana legalisation, drug-related traffic accidents increased. Unfortunately, unlike a breathalyser, the only fool-proof way to check for THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) levels in a person’s system is with a blood test — and this is not easy to request at the side of the road. This means that until a new method is found it will be incredibly difficult for officers to regulate driving under the influence of marijuana. As well, there is much concern over ‘edibles’, which are marijuana products in the form of sweet candies and baked goods . When they were introduced in Colorado, those who were used to simply smoking the drug were not aware of how much they were ingesting with edibles and some believe marijuana sweets were at the root of two suicides and a murder. But fortunately, Justin Trudeau is not rushing into anything. He says that he wants to truly understand and learn from the effects that marijuana legalisation has had on parts of the U.S. and wants to implement a well thought out ‘Canadian way’ to legalisation.
How will Marijuana Legalisation in Canada Affect the Rest of the World?
Beginning in the 1960’s and following through the 1980’s, most countries of the world signed onto three major drug treaties involving international drug policy which require the participating countries to work together to prohibit trafficking, possession, trade and distribution of drugs outside medical and scientific purposes. Decriminalisation of marijuana and marijuana for medical use are fine under these treaties. However, the treaties state specifically that ‘illicit drugs are not to be allowed for recreational use’ — and marijuana is, of course, listed as an illicit drug.
As such, if Trudeau leads Canada into marijuana legalisation, it will be the single biggest rebuke of the international treaties since the days they were signed. The only other country in the world that has officially legalised marijuana is Uruguay. But as Canada is a highly-developed, internationally active country, the consequences of this move could be much greater — but not necessarily in a bad way.
In 2016, the UN has a special meeting planned to discuss the global drug problem. Drug policy reformers are supposedly planning to use this meeting as an opportunity to reform the above three treaties in a manner that allows decriminalisation and legalisation — and Canada may be the country that paves the way to such success.
What Does Marijuana Legalisation Mean for Drug Addicts?
Despite popular belief, marijuana is an addictive drug. And as such, decriminalisation at the very least could help marijuana addicts stay out of jail and instead get the help they need. But completely legalising marijuana could be a slippery slope.
Alcohol is legal in most countries around the world, and yet it has been deemed the most dangerous drug, with alcohol consumption linked to over 3 million deaths each year. Part of the problem could be that it is so widely accessible, which is what Trudeau plans to do with marijuana.
If Canada is to go through with their plan for marijuana legalisation, it is important that they also increase drug education and awareness at the same time. Teaching children the real effects of drug use, and having recovering addicts come in to speak to them about their struggles with addiction, has proven to be a very effective method of deterring youth from using drugs.
If you or someone you know is suffering addiction to marijuana or any other drug, it is important to get addiction treatment as soon as possible to ensure that your chances for recovery are high. Contact us today to speak to a counsellor for a free consultation.