Today, history is made. Cannabis is now legal nationwide in Canada, the first country in the G7 nations and only the second in the world to do so after Uruguay.
Many anti-cannabis advocates argue that legalization is dangerous for kids, for citizens, and for society as a whole. Many are in a hysteria about impairment and driving. Many are worrying about workplace policies and insurance. While there are some genuine concerns with cannabis legalization, the truth is cannabis legalization will actually lead to a healthier society. Here’s why.
Stringent Regulations and Testing
One of the greatest benefits to society that legalization offers is the stringent regulating and testing on the cannabis Canadians are now going to buy. With the government controlling the supply of the substance, there are added safety guidelines producers must follow. This ensures Canadians can gauge the authenticity of their purchases, which isn’t possible when buying marijuana on the street. The safety control system reduces the risks of consuming cannabis that could be contaminated with mould, bacteria, pesticides and heavy metals. This is beneficial for health and safety purposes.
What’s more, Health Canada guidelines state that all cannabis packaging must list all the relevant information consumers need to make an informed purchasing decision. This information includes the producer’s name, the strain, and the THC and CBD content. Packaging must also include a disclaimer about the health risks associated with cannabis use.
Through legalization, safety and quality can be better assured.
A Reduction of Harmful Substances
While you will hear many arguments that marijuana is dangerous to human health, a significant number of studies on the matter actually state the positive health effects of this substance. Among other benefits, cannabis can reduce pain and inflammation, reduce muscle spasms, reduce the severity of some forms of epilepsy, and more. There are simply no health grounds to its previously illegal status.
On the other hand, studies do show the negative health consequences of other legal substances on the market, including tobacco and alcohol. As we all know, tobacco use has a high risk of addiction, cancer, emphysema, and more. Alcohol, too, has greater risks than cannabis, including a greater chance of injury, liver disease, addiction, alcohol poisoning, and mouth and throat cancer, among others.
Sleeping pills and opioids, too, are perfectly legal, but they can lead to addiction, overdose, and organ damage, and even death. Over 4,000 Canadians die a year from opioids, and zero have died from the use of cannabis. Cannabis is a harm-reduction product to: tobacco, alcohol, opioids and other addictive pharmaceuticals.
Legalization may be able to reduce Canadians’ dependency on these other harmful substances. With safe and easy access to marijuana, Canadians will have a healthier option to cope with stress, pain, sleep disorders, and more. This can have a tremendous impact on public health as a whole. It will take time to measure the impact cannabis has on the consumption of other drugs or pharmaceuticals, but many are optimistic.
Less Funding for the Black Market
Over the years, cannabis prohibition has created an underground economy surrounding the sale and use of marijuana. Now that cannabis is legal, cannabis holds less value for illegal traders. As long as legal cannabis prices remain affordable and supply meets demand, there will be little reason for Canadians to purchase marijuana from the black market, which will take funding away from crime groups.
While there are many peaceful cannabis black market sources, some criminal associations are involved in illicit cannabis and use the revenue to fund much more harmful businesses or drug trades with worse outcomes for the public.
Though the crime groups won’t be completely dismantled, and the black market won’t completely disappear overnight, legalization is a good step forward. The more we can beat what the black market is offering�”through easily accessible locations, seamless transactions, and affordable prices�”the stronger the impact legalization will have on crime groups.
Legalization takes the trade out of the criminals’ hands, reducing their influence not only in Canada but in countries where cannabis is produced and imported from.
Decreased Criminalization for Use
As of today, Canadian adults will not be arrested or prosecuted for the simple act of possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Though cannabis is now legalized, that doesn’t mean it’s a free for all in the country. There are still laws surrounding cannabis use, including:
- Adults are only allowed to carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent.
- It continues to be illegal for users to sell cannabis to others unless they are licensed retailers.
- Providing marijuana to youth is still strictly illegal.
- There are laws in place to limit the growing of plants in households, which vary per province.
A failure to follow these laws can lead to costly fines and even jail time. While some argue these laws are unnecessary or extreme, legalization has to start somewhere, and we have to see how strongly these are enforced and how they will evolve with time. Many expect deregulation and a relaxing of laws with time as data comes in on the harms/benefits to society.
There has always been a systemic injustice of marijuana incarceration in Canada, particularly with black and indigenous people disproportionately imprisoned for minor drug offences. Those convicted of cannabis-related offences are driven from their families and jobs and pushed into a prison system that may turn them into hardened criminals. A criminal record makes it more difficult for these offenders to integrate into society by forcing them to struggle to find work, find housing, travel, and even volunteer.
Legalization will now help ensure simple marijuana-related offenses do not ruin lives.
Legalization also means the government can tax the sales of marijuana, just as it has done with tobacco and alcohol. The states and countries that have legalized cannabis in the past have seen large upsurges in gross revenue, not only in tax revenue but also in tourism and overall purchasing powers of the population. For example, in the first week after legalizing retail sales, the state of Colorado produced more than $5 million.
Legalization in Canada will, no doubt, produce considerable revenue for Canada.
Legalization will also mean significant savings to the justice system since resources will no longer be used to keep marijuana users in jail. This money can be better spent on other, more worthwhile initiatives to improve society.
Further, legalization will also create more jobs in the country.
Reduced Chronic Stress
We live in a fast-paced and competitive world. Our employment responsibilities coupled with family responsibilities lead to very few moments of peace. Our financial stresses also translate into more worries, anxiety, and pressure. Many Canadians find themselves in a state of chronic stress.
Unfortunately, stress is a known precursor to many types of illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, as well as high blood pressure, a lowered immune system, aches and pains, indigestion, and more. It can also lead to unhealthy behaviours, such as excess alcohol and tobacco intake and poor sleep.
Cannabis can reduce chronic stress in a low-risk manner, ultimately helping Canadians reshift their priorities and be more present in the moment. This, in turn, can create a happier society as a whole. Some are worried about the risks of cannabis causing psychosis, paranoia, anxiety or dependence/addiction. They are right, cannabis (THC) poses these risks, but when you look at the absolute risk of this, it is low compared to many other legal and prescribed substances. Cannabis is the best harm-reduction tool of our time, and if people adopt this over other, more harmful options, their situations will more than likely improve.
By reducing funding for the black market, implementing stringent testing and regulations, reducing the use of other harmful substances, reducing criminalization of use, creating economic opportunities, and reducing chronic stress, cannabis legalization will lead to a healthier Canada.