Canadians aren’t perfect. But like Uruguay, the only other country in the world to have legalized marijuana, it’s now possible to buy cannabis online in Canada. With almost half of all Canadians reporting that they’ve used cannabis at one time or another, legalization was long overdue.
The road to legalization was slow and painful for many, not least the growers, distributors, and aficionados of recreational weed. Now that the threat of punishment has been removed, here’s a look at the reasons why marijuana should be legal everywhere, not just in the country we’re lucky enough to call home.
Prohibition Never Works
When you’re talking about a substance that has been used for spiritual, medicinal, and celebratory purposes for thousands of years, making it illegal only drives production, distribution, and sales underground.
In Canada, cannabis was completely prohibited in 1925 until medicinal cannabis was legalized in 2001. And at that point, the slow but inevitable process of legalizing recreational marijuana started to gain traction. It only took another 17 years for that to happen.
Prohibition Is a Waste of Time and Resources
Both police and judicial resources can be better spent investigating, prosecuting, and punishing actual crimes in a timely fashion. Our courts are still backlogged, and violent criminals are having charges stayed because they’re not getting on the court docket quickly enough.
Waiting six years for a case to come to trial means justice for none. The limited resources of our justice system are stretched thin as it is. Far better to spend the time and money protecting the vulnerable in our society from identity theft and cyber fraud and a whole host of other heinous offenses than busting someone for smoking a joint.
Criminalization Ruins Lives Needlessly
You are more likely to spend time in jail if you have already been incarcerated. While recidivism rates seem to be declining, a criminal record makes it harder to find work, get housing, and join a licensed profession. Even an arrest can adversely affect you when applying for apartments in a tight housing market if the landlord runs a criminal record check. While Canada for many years prior to legalization had a laissez-faire attitude towards simple possession, the statistics from our neighbours to the south are sobering: since 1995, more than 15 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses.
Criminalization Allows Systemic Racism to Flourish
In the U.S., Black Americans were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than White Americans, according to the ACLU. There’s no reason to suppose the figures are significantly different in Canada. And a disproportionate number of our Indigenous people have been incarcerated for “crimes” for which others receive merely a fine, thus perpetuating a cycle that ruins lives for generations.
Legalization Doesn’t Increase Underage Use of Marijuana
According to the Canadian government’s surveys, 16.8% of Canadians 15 and over said they had used cannabis in the three months prior to the survey. That was an increase from 14.9% in 2018, prior to legalization.
But the number of 18 to 24 year olds who reported consuming marijuana remained the same in 2019, 33.3%. An increase of two to four percent was reported among those 25 and older in the same time period, while use among those aged 15 to 17 actually declined significantly, from 19.8% to 10.4%.
It’s important to note that 25 and older is a huge demographic compared with the other two categories, and it’s possible being open about cannabis use is responsible for the consumption uptick. In other words, now that marijuana is legal, those who may have been unwilling to admit they get high when it was prohibited now feel far more comfortable going on the record.
Legalization Allows for Regulation, Including Taxation
While we’re still in the early stages of cannabis legalization, we’re already seeing tax revenues from the sale of marijuana at both the federal and provincial levels. Between April 2019 and March 2020, the federal cannabis excise duty was $23.7 million. The federal government keeps 25% of those duties and shares the remainder with provincial governments.
In May of 2020, British Columbia reported record cannabis excise tax revenue of $2.5 million for December 2019.
There are other, less direct forms of taxation as a result of cannabis legalization. Producers licensed by the federal government pay corporate taxes. And of course those legally employed in cannabis businesses, whether growers, distributors, or retailers, all pay income tax.
Six years after legalizing recreational cannabis, the state of Colorado has collected a billion dollars in total state revenue from marijuana sales. These taxes are used for the state’s general reserve fund, but also for education and health care, including mental health services.
Canadians often joke about our “sin taxes” on beer, wine, and spirits. These taxes keep both our provincial and federal retail taxes lower, as well as our overall rates of personal income tax.
We Need Legal Marijuana for Pain Management
By 2014, 15.6% of Canada’s population was 65 or older. By 2030 that percentage will be significantly higher — 23% or 9.5 million. By 2036, average life expectancy will be 86.2 for women and 82.9 for men.
In order to stay healthy and active so they can age in place, while waiting for joint replacements or a way to regenerate hip and knee cartilage, we need to find a better way to deal with chronic pain than opioids, real or synthetic. One study of patients with chronic pain using medical cannabis was associated with a 64% reduction in opioid use, as well as decreased side effects from medication, and improved quality of life.
Now that we can buy cannabis online in Canada in various forms, there’s no reason to suffer in silence, let pain limit our mobility, or lead restricted lives that don’t include exercise. At Low Price Bud, we have a variety of smokables, ointments, creams, and edibles that can relieve both pain and anxiety.