Canada legalizes marijuana; may influence US drug policy
Breaking News Jun 21, 2018
Canada legalizes marijuana; may influence US drug policy

Canada became the first wealthy country across the globe to legalize the drug completely after the Canadian Senate approved Bill C-45, commonly termed as the Cannabis Act, on June 19, 2018.

The legislation, already approved by the House of Commons, directs the state to provide legal access to marijuana, and to regulate and control production, distribution and sales of the drug.

The measure decriminalizes cannabis possession, domestic cultivation of marijuana plants, and selling the drug to adults. The federal government will monitor the criminal sanctions pertaining to the sale of marijuana to minors and issuing licenses to producers, whereas provincial governments will supervise sales, distribution, and other regulatory activities. The statute largely follows recommendations made by a federal task force on marijuana legalization. To roll out the new law in its entirety, federal and provincial governments would require nearly two to three months.

The new move comes as a major accomplishment for the federal government headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which had promised to legalize the drug during his electoral campaign in 2015. “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana. Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug,” the Liberal Party had announced on its campaign website.

The latest development has evoked a mixed response. Experts believe the Canadian government is walking a fine line. Law enforcement authorities hope that the new law would curb the marijuana black market and facilitate a safe outlet for adult pot users. However, critics fear that the Cannabis Act could expose minors, small children, and individuals with substance use disorders to the perils of marijuana.

Impact on US

The daring step taken by Canada could upset countries like Russia, China, and even the U.S. that have historically adopted a stricter view of the international drug-related treaties. Canadian legislators may feel marijuana legalization is the best option for their country in the future, but their next-door neighbor — the U.S. — could always worry about legal Canadian weed making it across the northern borders into American cities.

In the U.S., numerous federal and state laws have been implemented to deal with illicit manufacture and trafficking of weed. Although 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot use for medical purpose, the marijuana black market continues to thrive nationwide. Moreover, due to the absence of any recognized therapeutic value and the increasing risk of abuse, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Marijuana is a dangerous drug

Studies say neurotoxin — delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — present in marijuana is the main cause of addiction. Estimates of the number of people across the U.S. addicted to weed are phenomenal. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 24 million Americans aged 12 or older in that year were current users of marijuana. The need of the hour is to combat addiction by creating awareness about dangers of marijuana and expanding access to treatment. If a person is suffering from weed addiction, he/she should immediately seek professional help from a top-notch rehab center.

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