1 Introduction - Reasons of Legalization of cannabis in Canada- incitements, implementation and results
2 General Information
2.1 Legalization act
2.2 Effect of Cannabis
3 Illegal use despite legalization
3.1 Effect of the black market
3.2 Cannabis consumption by minors
3.3 Cannabis transport into the United States
4 Economy - Change of the Canadian economy due to the legalization
5 Results after legalization in the first quarter of 2019
5.1 Change in consumption by cannabis
5.2 Traffic fatalities
5.3 Public health
6 Comparison between the cannabis policy in Canada and Germany
“Everyone is doing it anyways so why not legalize it?” This quote is by Malcolm G Bird, from the book High Time (Bird 2019, p. 23). The legalization of cannabis in Canada on 17 October 2018 is a historical event which makes Canada one of the first G7 nations to legalize marijuana (Watts 2018). The Canadian government decided to legalize the consumption of cannabis to accomplish three main goals. Keeping cannabis out of the hands of adolescents, keeping the profit out of the pockets of criminals and protecting public health by allowing adults the access to legal cannabis (Government of Canada, 2019).
The focus of this paper will be on the three main goals mentioned above, and in which way these goals have been accomplished or not. Further, the effect which the legalization has in connection with the economy and illegal transport is mentioned as well. A conclusion is served afterwards.
This topic personally interests me because I only found out about the legalization in 2019 and I did not know cannabis was legal in Canada before. Therefore, I was surprised and asked myself why such a big country decided to make a drug legal, which is illegal in many other states and countries, because authorities interpret the cannabis plant to be a danger towards their population. I also wondered, whether the legalization in Canada had positive or negative effects and the reasons for why that is so.
First, the paper will be about general information on how and when the bill to legalize cannabis got introduced and information about the effect and origin of cannabis. The following part will deal with the topic of illegal use despite the legalization. After this will be discussed how the black market is to be assessed, the use by adolescents and transport into the United States. Canadas economy and economic changes after the legalization are addressed in the next section. Changes after one quarter year past the legalization on the aspects consume by cannabis, public health and traffic fatalities are taken a look at as well.
A comparison between the cannabis policy in Germany and in Canada is finally taken a look at and is followed by the conclusion.
2 General information
2.1 Legalization act
“Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has fulfilled a central pillar of its 2015 electoral campaign” (Bird 2019, p. 22). Next to his several campaign promises such as boosting the economy, the legalization of marijuana has finally been realized in October 2018 (Puzic, 2020). In February 2018, the Senate resumed a motion to send significant parts of the Bill C- 45 to four Senate committees. After several readings and checks the Bill has passed the Senate on the 7th of June 2018 and was sent to the House of Commons which agreed on the Bill on the 18th of June. On the 21st June 2018, the bill received royal assent and got introduced by the government that it will come in force on the 17th of October 2018. (Library of Parliament, 2018).
But before talking about the legalization of Cannabis, it is of importance to know the plants impact on the human body.
2.3 Effect of Cannabis
The term “cannabis” includes marijuana and hash. Both are different concentrations of the hemp plant (Geyer, Wurth, p. 33). The inebriation of cannabis results from “tetrahydrocannabinol” short THC and “cannabidiol” (CBD). The effect of cannabis is based on the “endocannabinoid system”, which is naturally included in the human body (Geyer, Wurth, p. 35). The “cannabinoid receptors” are spread mostly in the brain but also in organs like the kidney and intestines (Drugcom.de, 2014). THC is docking on those receptors and is able to spread its effect. The cerebellum, hippocampus is responsible for the development of changes in feelings and consciousness. THC as well affects memory, exclusively the short time memory, movement and fine motor manipulations. The brain stem fortunately does not have a wide spread of cannabinoid receptors, so vital functions like breathing are not necessarily affected. Deaths due to cannabis consume are not known (Geyer, Wurth, p. 35, 44). When cannabis is used for medicine purposes it should have positive effects on appetite, sleep and the sensation of pain (Geyer, Wurth, p. 35).
3 Illegal use despite legalization
3.1 Effect of the black market
One of the three main reasons which moved the Canadian Government to legalize the use of marijuana, was to reduce illegal purchases and keeping profits out of the hands of criminals. (Government of Canada, 2019) Unlike legally sold weed, the illegal one involves several risks such as unverified and unclean sales. The probability to try a different, dangerous drug is also very high, because an illegal source possibly sells more than one kind of drug.
It is now important to discuss, whether consumers prefer to buy their cannabis legally or if they still desire to purchase marijuana illegally, ever since the legalization in October 2018. According to Esfandiari, S., the acquisition of weed from the black market is still remarkably large (Esfandiari, 2019). 42,7 percent of marijuana consumers admit that they still like to buy their cannabis from an illegal source (compare appendix one).
Sales from the legal market are estimated to be about one billion dollars, while approximately five to seven billion dollars are spent on the illegal purchase of marijuana. One of the reasons is for example the difference in price. The cost of illegally acquired weed is only about half as much as legally purchased marijuana (Esfandiari, 2019).
Price differences between legal and illegal weed over the span of five-quarter years are presented in appendix two. The legally sold marijuana is averagely 30 to 40 percent more expensive than the illegally sold one (Deschamps, 2020). This difference in price can be explained by the taxes that add to the price of legally sold cannabis. Lynn, S. explained it as followed: "The tax applies to cultivators, producers, and packagers of marijuana products" (Lynn, 2020).
Cannabis excise stamps deem on verified products, which prove that cannabis is legal. The seal also gives information about the cannabis excise table (compare appendix three)
In addition to the price differences, there is also a lack of available shops selling weed legally. Illegally sold marijuana however, can be found on almost every street corner and is, therefore, as far as the locality is concerned, more comfortable to buy. For example, the province of Ontario has more than 600 liquor shops and only 24 cannabis shops. This difference can be justified through the lottery (Deschamps, 2020). The lottery is carried out by an independent third party if the retail trade registrations in a city or district are too high. To obtain a license for the legal sale of marijuana, pre-qualification steps must be taken. These include personal and criminal background checks, as well as location checks about the distance from restricted locations. (Washington State, Liquor and Cannabis Board, 2020)
This makes it even harder to increase the availability of more legal marijuana shops. So more consumers are attracted to buy their cannabis legally.
The difference in availability between legal and illegal ways to buy marijuana is striking and explains why most people prefer to buy their marijuana nearby, even if it is illegal. Besides those facts, the selection of various products is also broader when weed is bought illegally (Deschamps,2020).
The illegal trade as well affects cannabis companies that have invested in shares. While 2018 was successful for investors, stocks have fallen by 25 percent due to a lack of sales. As a result, the companies "Hexo Crp" and "Canntrust" had to dismiss over 100 employees (Deschamps, 2020). Companies suffer from sales through the black market.
3.2 Cannabis consumption by minors
Another main aspect that made the government legalize marijuana, is the cannabis consumption by minors. There are several reasons why the legalization brings advantages towards young people. This can be justified as follows.
Firstly, I want to mention that almost 30 per cent of young adults aged 18 to 24 admit to have consumed marijuana in the past. (Weinstock, p. 68)
In order to acquire the drug, adolescents have to get in contact with criminals that deal marijuana. Therefore, they move in criminal circles and risk ending up in a criminal record that will prospectively follow them their whole life. This will affect their future and most importantly their career choice. (Weinstock, p.67)
It is obvious, that illegally purchased marijuana, which is unregulated and unverified is more dangerous than legal one. The THC potency of illegal marijuana may possibly be too highly concentrated (Weinstock 67) and therefore can cause psychosis. The danger of developing a so-called psychosis is five times more likely to occur with a higher THC content than with a normal one, when cannabis is consumed daily. (Stallmach, 2019) Other risks lay in toxic substances, that increase the effect of the drug, which may be in illegal cannabis. (Weinstock, p.69) For example the liquidity “brix”. Brix is used to cut illegal marijuana and it contains sugar, growth hormones and liquid plastic. When the substance gets burned, it exhales carcinogenic compounds, that also is said to change genotype. (Deutscher Hanfverband, without further information).
Especially adolescents, whose brains are still developing, suffer from toxic substances and THC concentrations that enormously harm mental health risks in connection with marijuana consumption. The brain development roughly arises until the age of 25, which is why marijuana consumption for older people is not as harming as for minors (Weinstock 2019, p. 69).
Now, to refer to my claim mentioned above, I'm going to talk about benefits but also detriments that legalization causes towards young people.
By purchasing Marijuana legally, consumers find themselves on the right side of the criminal law and don’t have to be worried about legal consequences. This also makes sure that cannabis gets routinized and rendered just as the simple purchase of alcohol (Weinstock 2019, p. 70).
Furthermore, licensed producers which must adhere to quality controls and different regulations have an impact towards young people (Weinstock 2019, p. 70, 71). By all means minors, who ask consumers of full age to purchase them the intoxicant, will after all receive a safe and regulated product. Although the legalization is intended to reduce the use of Cannabis, it is still an improvement that minors have the possibility to consume legal marijuana which minimalizes the harms associated with illegal one. In reality, a problem occurs when taking a look at the law. According to the department of justice it is strictly prohibited to give or sell cannabis to any person under the age of 18 and to exploit a minor to commit a cannabis- related crime. If these laws are violated there are penalties of 14 years in prison (Department of Justice, 2019).
Advertisement and seduction of cannabis products targeted at adolescents is prohibited. Selling cannabis products, that are labelled and packaged temptingly towards young people is forbidden, as well as selling marijuana articles per vending machines or self-service displays. Infringement is punishable by up to three years in prison or paying a fine up to five million dollars (Department of Justice, 2019). The aim of restricting commercials is difficult to achieve when social media and internet saturation are also ways to advertise. Some form of advertisements are permitted on media, so it is quite difficult to hide commercials about cannabis from minors (Weinstock 2019, p. 73- 74).
To clarify this case, “Rand Corporation” made an analysis about how advertisement influences the cannabis consumption by Californian teenagers. The analyse deals with medical marijuana ads and the result came out as follows. J. D'Amico, E. Says: “In our study, teens who reported seeing more medical marijuana advertising were more likely to report having used marijuana in the previous 30 days, and they were more likely to say they expected to use it within the next six months.” (J. D'Amico, 2019) This example illustrates that hiding adverts from children and teenagers is in fact an implementation that is necessary and can also be transferred to Canadian teenagers.
Moreover, there are several steps taken to improve education in schools in regard to cannabis. The Ontario Ministry of Education published a document in spring 2018 which informs about “Cannabis information for Educators”. A sentence which summarizes the idea shortly: “The Ministry of Education is working collaboratively with community partners and other ministries across government to prevent and/or delay cannabis use among youth, promote healthy decision-making and ensure student safety.” It also releases plans on how and what students are being taught about cannabis, so parents can take a look at it and inform themselves on what is important to know (The Ontario Ministry of Education, 2019)
Additionally, The Toronto District School Board made lesson plans in summer 2019 to inform about the cannabis legislation and they work with “mental health support staff” so that they are able to discuss the consumption with students (The Canadian Press, 2018).
Ultimately, a look should be taken at actual results about minors consuming cannabis after its legalization.
Statistics made by the Canadian Government show percentages of consumption by students in different time periods. In 2018 to 2019, 18 percent of students in the classes seven to twelve admit having consumed marijuana, which is exactly the same number as in 2016 to 2017 (Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2018). Those counts mean that the use of cannabis generally neither increased nor improved. When taking a look at narrow classes, the results seem to differ from classes seven to nine. The consumption increased by one percent compared to 2016 to 2017, while classes from ten to twelve stayed the same with 29 percent. If the one percent increase caused by the legalization is unsure, which is why students got asked if they think that receiving the drug is harder or even easier since the legalization act. 40 per cent of the students think that it is easy to get cannabis, which is 2 per cent more than the years 2016 to 2017. 42 percent of the pupils think that it is hard to obtain marijuana while counts 2016 to 2017 where at 46 percent. (Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2018) Those numbers illustrate, even only in a minimal percentage, that the cannabis consumption has not reduced but increased. The fact that cannabis is legal might take away the dangers associated with cannabis. While 9 percent of the students in 2016 to 2017 said that marijuana has no harms, only 7 percent in 2018 to 2019 think that the consumption is dangerous (Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2018).
3.3 Cannabis transport into the United States
The idea being an US resident, travelling to Canada for consuming and buying marijuana and bringing it back to the US, where cannabis is illegal, sounds seductive, but is illegal and entails several penalties.
The transport of any cannabis related product inclusive cannabis for medicinal purposes across the Canadian border is illegal and will be fined up to $5,000 and imprisonment in between six months and 14 years (Macdonald, 2019). Beyond that, it does not matter if the country in which the cannabis is transported to has legalized cannabis, it is still prosecuted. (MacDonald, 2019)
When illegal cannabis transport is recognized at the US border, the individual has to expect a fine up to $250,000, which is $200,00 more than the Canadian borders fine and imprisonment up to 5 years. Even the smell of cannabis or cannabis residue are proof enough, that cannabis was being possessed and criminal proceedings may be initiated as well. As a Canadian citizen it is also possible to obtain a lifetime ban to enter the US when cannabis is found at the US border (Macdonald, 2019).
Concerning those regulations, it is now interesting, to analyse some current cases and problems that Canadians have to overcome when leaving the Canadian border in connection to marijuana.
As an illustration there is a case given about a Canadian woman who wanted to cross the border of the united states with cannabidiol oil which was found in her backpack by the border guards. It is significant to mention that the oil only has medicinal purposes and does not have any form of psychoactive substances in it. The woman had to pay a fine of $500, fingerprints were taken, and she was denied to have entry to the US (Tasker, 2019).
"I felt like a criminal and they seemed like, 'Oh, here's another pothead using this,'" she said. "I didn't feel like I was treated with respect on it, considering it's for a medical purpose." A quotation of the anonymous woman. (Tasker, 2019)
To have access to the US again, after deportation or removal, it is necessary to pay $600 for an application. Furthermore, does amnesty not guarantee entry to the U.S. There are many steps taken before it is possible to achieve an allowance to enter the US after bringing any cannabis related product to the US border. “U.S. government demands a criminal record check from the RCMP, letters of reference, a letter of remorse for past wrongs, proof of employment and documentation outlining a person's residence and work history.” (Tasker, 2019)
Score personal information is given to the US government, to achieve an allowance of entrance. Thousands of Canadians suffer from the federal US government when travelling into the US. Only the confession that a joint has been smoked in the past can cause a ban from entering the USA. The guards at the US border have the ability to ask several questions about cannabis consumption in the past. (Tasker, 2019) 4 Economy-Change of the Canadian economy due to legalization When cannabis got legalized, another branch that supports the economy by government revenues got introduced. The following excerpt aims to investigate whether the legalization has maintained the economy as expected.
- Quote paper
- Lia Wölke (Author), 2020, Reasons of Legalization of Cannabis in Canada. Incitements, Implementation and Results, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1033961