I love Canada. Who doesn’t?
It’s the land of maple syrup, poutine, racial diversity and Justin Trudeau (Be still my heart!)
If those aren’t reasons enough, let us add one more.
Canada just legalised the recreational use of marijuana. The act in a nutshell states that
- Adults can now purchase, possess and share up to 30 grams of fresh or dried cannabis in form of cannabis oil or seeds from authorised retailers.
- The act also allows for growing cannabis at home, restricted to 4 plants per household.
- Cannabis infused food and beverages can now be produced at home, but the regulatory framework for their production and sale will only come into effect by next year.
- The consumption of cannabis in public places will only be allowed in authorised places regulated by local authorities.
Great News, eh?
Medical marijuana was legalised by Canada in the year 2001, making it easier for about 330,758 Canadians including those suffering from cancer to get it through licensed producers. According to the 2017 Canadian Cannabis Survey (CCS), the medicinal and non-medicinal consumers of cannabis spent about $5.7 billion and recreational users spent close to $ 75 a month on marijuana and related products.
These figures invite all sort of unscrupulous entities to make a killing by selling the produce illegally to adults and youth alike to make a fast buck. The move to legalize cannabis was partly to check the profits these unscrupulous elements make at the cost of public health.
The decision has met with huge scale euphoria, most of them hailing it as a progressive step towards tackling marijuana related crimes and more importantly making it inaccessible to youth under 18 years of age.
Legalisation of marijuana offers multi-fold advantages such as
- Providing a safe access to quality products devoid of contamination at competitive prices.
- Stringent laws to tackle violation of the legally accepted limits for purchase, possession and sharing under the act.
- Making it inaccessible to youth by ironclad laws that can attract hefty fines and imprisonment.
There are some who are outraged by this move and feel that it is very early for the public to make informed decisions about the use of marijuana without understanding the full implications of its side-effects.
It is being pointed out that cannabis can be addictive and can create serious dependence and mental health issues if not used with caution. Parallels are being drawn between cigarette usage and the amount of time it took for people to be fully aware of its negative effects.
The government is open to feedback and has assured that it will revise the legislation dealing with marijuana in 5 years time based on the challenges faced.
However, before you book your tickets to Ottawa to stock up on cannabis, Hang on, take a pause!
It is illegal to carry cannabis to or from Canada in any form. Though 9 states in the U.S allow the use of recreational marijuana and 30 states allow it for medicinal purposes, it is illegal to transport it to or from the states. You may face heavy fines and a possible jail term if caught transporting cannabis.
So will the wait never end? Is there any hope that one day U.S too will legalize the use of cannabis for recreational and medicinal uses just like Canada?
The answer seems to be in the affirmative as positive public perception is making lawmakers sit up and take cognisance of the fact that cannabis is not only for getting high but also has tremendous healing properties.
Unlike in the past when a typical cannabis user was pictured as someone who was a “hippie”, recluse or an addict , the user of cannabis today is probably someone battling cancer , a child fighting epilepsy , or you and me tackling insomnia or hypertension.
Research has time and again shown that cannabinoids (CBD) extracted from the cannabis plant has varied medical uses with minimal side effects making it a sought after alternative to traditional pharmaceutical options.
All the counter-arguments that the critics of cannabis put forth have been proven unfounded in studies and research conducted by credible private and government-owned organisations.The legalisation of cannabis in Canada is the much-needed impetus that the industry here needed and hopefully will make way for a pragmatic approach to how US deals with cannabis now.