Go Canada

Nice to see at least some country coming to its senses on Marijuana policy:

OTTAWA — Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation on Thursday to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Canada.

Many nations have either decriminalized marijuana, allowed it to be prescribed medically or effectively stopped enforcing laws against it. But when Mr. Trudeau’s bill passes as expected, Canada will become only the second nation, after Uruguay, to completely legalize marijuana as a consumer product.

“Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities,” said Bill Blair, a lawmaker and former Toronto police chief whom Mr. Trudeau appointed to manage the legislation…

While the new legislation will take Canada beyond its medical marijuana system, it stops far short of creating an open market. The law will require purchasers to be at least 18 years old — though provinces can set a higher minimum — and it will limit the amount they can carry at any one time to 30 grams, about an ounce.

Households will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants. But the legislation seems built on the assumption that most users will be supplied by commercial growers, who will be licensed and closely supervised by the federal government.

Growing, importing, exporting or selling marijuana outside licensed channels will remain serious crimes, according to Mr. Blair and Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister.

I especially appreciate their acknowledgement that there may well be unintended consequences (primarily in the form of a black market) and that they will be vigilant and adjust the policy as needed:

How much marijuana will cost and how heavily it will be taxed will be influenced by Canada’s experience with tobacco, which is also tightly regulated.

When the country tried to discourage smoking by sharply increasing cigarette taxes, it inadvertently created a growing black market for cigarettes smuggled from the United States and elsewhere.

Since one of the government’s main aims with the new law is to wipe out — or at least reduce — illicit marijuana dealing, it will want to avoid measures that spur its growth.

Will there be problems?  Sure.  Plenty of “devil is in the details” to sort out, too.  But this is absolutely better than the status quo and miles better than most other countries.  If we can reasonably successfully regulate tobacco, we can certainly do the same with marijuana.  And so much better to not be wasting scarce criminal justice resources on ordinary use.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Go Canada

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Sounds a lot like the Colorado model (incidentally, the International Church of Cannabis is moving in to a large historic vacant church in my neighborhood).

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