cannabis canada legalization
Posted in The Green Ace Blog

History has told us time and again that prohibition of substances often leads to a push of these substances into the black market.

Alcohol prohibition in the US during the 20th century has pushed the use of this dangerous recreational substance into the black market, thus giving mafias more power by giving them the sole manipulation of alcohol supply back then. Bootlegging and organized “rum-running” was rampant. Crime rose to a whopping 21% and list simply goes on and on.

The main rationale as to why cannabis was legalized in the Canadian market was provided in the law enacted on October 17, 2018. It stated that the legalization of cannabis was done to accomplish three main goals, namely:

  • to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
  • to keep profits out of the pockets of criminals; and
  • to protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.

More oversight and regulation by the Canadian government means that despite the acknowledged health risks of cannabis, the government could enforce regulations for this substance and could monitor its propensity for abuse in their populace.

Rundown of the Cannabis Act

The Cannabis Act makes a rigid legal framework for overseeing the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. These include strict regulations for the amount of cannabis one can possess and could use for either medical or recreational purposes.

For all intents and purposes, several questions might pop into your mind and this article tries to answer those.

Has weed consumption exploded since its legalization?

Contrary to popular belief, the answer would surprise you! However, the answer to this question is somewhat nuanced. 

According to Statistics Canada, only 5 percent more Canadians have consumed cannabis in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the second quarter of 2018.

However, this points to a rather interesting case.

Some provinces like Ontario and Quebec have not adopted the use of weed dramatically. The reason behind this is that cannabis isn’t all that much easier to come by than when it was illegal. Customers weren’t also that interested in online sales.

This is in contrast to provinces who both took prohibition seriously but have also generously invested in cannabis retail stores. Cannabis consumption has even skyrocketed to 50 percent in some places such as Saskatchewan.

This leads to a realization that cannabis use since its legalization is predictive in accordance with the local’s behavior towards cannabis.

Did cannabis legalization affect alcohol consumption?

According to the latest statistics, alcohol consumption hasn’t fallen significantly since the legalization of weed.

This indicates that cannabis and alcohol are simply unique substances used for various recreational purposes; they are simply not interchangeable.

Alcohol has a more dampening effect on the user either for better or for worse, but cannabis gives you a more introverted and euphoric experience; the two are simply different.

Has the black market been defeated?

The answer is a little bit more nuanced. To some extent, yes.

The most recent numbers available as of the first half of 2019 looks something like this:

  • Legal source: 48%
  • Illegal source: 40%
  • Friends and family (might be legal but hard to tell): 42%
  • Grown by the user or another person (might be legal but hard to tell): 6.8%

These numbers may add up to more than a 100% due to the fact that users had more than one source of cannabis.

In retrospect, Canadians spend roughly $2 on illegal weed and $1 on legal weed as of the second quarter of 2019. The most obvious of the reasons why the black market still had to displace is the lack of legal retail stores in some provinces. The foreseen expansion of these stores may prompt a positive shift towards these numbers.

Another element in which legal stores could compete with the black market is price. With the influx of supply to the legal market, we could see a drastic drop in prices as long as there is no business conglomerate that controls the monopoly of cannabis supplies. 

As with the law of supply and demand, a steadfast increase in supply will prompt a shift in the price curve in order to increase the demand of the said product.

Who is making money out of weed?

A stark contrast must be made in the various provinces of Canada.

Provinces which have centered on a conservative approach in dealing with the legalization of cannabis have made minimal income as compared to the provinces that have adopted a more liberal approach on the legalization of cannabis.

Between these two antithetical propositions and situations, it is apparent that those provinces who have heavily invested in the new industry have made gains in the newly-opened market. It is also evident that those provinces who have adopted a conservative strategy in dealing with this new market have made lesser gains. This nonetheless could increase government revenue to fund more important social programs like the continual improvement of the Canadian healthcare system.

However, revenue for such an act is relegated as a secondary priority for the lawmakers who passed and enacted this act. Their main goal was to displace and cripple the black market’s stronghold on cannabis, thus making government oversight and regulation more apparent to prevent abuse and misuse of the substance.

Conclusion

In pursuit of greater accessibility, safety, and oversight, the Cannabis Act of 2018 has made great strides in improving the situation of cannabis use in Canada. 

This has not only allowed greater government oversight and regulation towards the product but also the catalysis of the incremental displacement of the black market stronghold of cannabis.

Cannabis legalization in Canada has also provided access to individuals who need cannabis for medical reasons under the supervision of a medical professional. Nonetheless, it has made strides in the responsible usage of cannabis for recreational use.

Though the effects of this act after two years has not been drastically felt, incremental steps have been made in order for the goal of this act achieved. This was a step in the right direction as history would tell us. 

Though not perfect on all angles, this would probably be the best recourse for the betterment of Canadians.

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