Canada has been swept up in the cannabis craze and all signs point to the country being on track for legalization by June 2018. Bill C-45 or the Cannabis Act was introduced to parliament on Tuesday, which is its the last stop before being ratified. Due to widespread public and political support, many manufactures are looking to be ready to put product on shelves by July 2018.
However, this incredible timeline, which was initially proposed by Trudeau, has come under fire from police officers and psychiatrists who worry that such a fast road to legalization might encourage underage cannabis usage. According to a recent poll by the Washington post, 48% of Canadians are worried that legalization would lead to increased consumption by youths. Despite this, approximately 60% of Canadians are in favor of federal legalization. It's important to note that many lawmakers in support of legal recreational cannabis believe that it will decrease the amount of youth consumption. A believe that has proven to be true in US states that have legalized recreational cannabis.
So, why is Trudeau pushing such a rapid timeline?
He's recently stated that, "The current framework is hurting Canadians... Criminal gangs and street gangs are making millions of dollars of profits off the sale of marijuana, and we need to put an end to this policing that does not work.” In fact, according to Marijuana Business Daily, Canada's recreational cannabis black market is worth roughly $17 Billion USD.
This has left lawmakers and corporation questioning how to effectively capture all of that potential profit. Most provinces haven't decided how they're going to tackle this issue, but Ontario and and New Brunswick have both declared that they will be opening government owned stores to sell the product.
Some are calling this a mistake, believing that this move will only drive more traffic to illicit avenues. It's been proposed that business owners look to the current cannabis black market and attempt to absorb some of that workforce and knowledge, which is already being attempted by some businesses such as the Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis.
The fact that the country is considering questions such as these instead of whether or not recreational cannabis is a possibility is quite telling. Canada seems to stand alone when it comes to countries considering avenues to legal recreational cannabis and, as it stands now, we might see recreational cannabis instituted within the next year. Will this influence the US federal government to pursue its own path to legalization? Only time will tell.