Canada To Legalise

Hats off to the Canadian Government for following an evidence-based approach to Cannabis reform. Yesterday they passed a landmark law that will legalise the recreational use of cannabis nationwide and will provide a regulated market for its sale and supply. Cannabis use is a health issue and the Canadian Government will treat it as such, rather than relying on their criminal justice system which simply exacerbates the issue, as we have seen in New Zealand. 

Much like our Real Deal Cannabis reform, it is based on a number of key pillars designed to reduce the overall harm from cannabis use. The policy will:

  • Reduce exposure and keep profits out of the hands of criminals;
  • Provide a regulated market to ensure a safe product and a secure supply chain;
  • Allow for tax revenue to help fund addiction services;
  • Reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and police force;
  • Protect young people by keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youths.

Canada has had legal medicinal use since 2001. Back then the evidence was nowhere near as robust as it is now, and it appears to have been a bit of a pot shot policy in comparison to their current announcement. But, it helped pave the way for a greater understanding of the hemp plant, and obviously was the first step toward their regulated legal market.

As Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, countless scientists and analysists, policemen and women, lawyers and others across the world understand, prohibition has failed. People will smoke cannabis despite the wishes of governing bodies. In saying that, case studies we have seen in place like the Colorado, where full legalisation and commercialisation is allowed, have seen cannabis usage increase. That is not what we advocate. Despite what many may think, the science is very clear that cannabis does have a negative impact on developing brains. Treating cannabis as a health issue, funding addiction services, ensuring a safe product, referencing all the points listed above means we can reduce harm. This is the most crucial aspect of our policy and is reflected in many ways in the Canadian document

The most frustrating aspect of our country’s lethargy in dealing with cannabis reform is the ignorance shown by the establishment. Sticking with our own outdated laws is simply hindering any progress we could make in reducing the harm that cannabis has on our society. To make matters worse, it also directly affects wider drug reform and our meth and synthetic cannabis epidemic. The watered-down policy we did end up with made a mockery of Labour’s pre-election promises and shows that ill-informed thinking still prevails within establishment parties.  Opinion based on a legacy of prejudice should have no role.

For a country that prides itself on being progressive, our lack of action on cannabis law reform is simply astounding. Now we will have to wait 3 more years for our current batch of ‘leaders’ to pull their heads out of the sand.

Andrew Courtney

Andrewc@top.org.nz


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