A monumental step forward for cannabis policy around the world began Wednesday when legal sales of cannabis started in Canada. Though right now it is only Canadians who are benefiting from the change in national policy, the rest of the world is now looking to Canada to see just how successful legalization and regulation can really be. If things go well – which they should, based on the evidence from U.S. states that have legalized – then this could possibly lead to changes on a global scale in the coming years.
“They know they are the global leaders if they get it right. And they are making this a priority from the top down,” said April Pride of Van der Pop, a Seattle-based women-focused cannabis lifestyle brand operating in the USA and Canada.
Since the early 1900s, cannabis has been demonized. False truths and propaganda spread like wildfire and “reefer madness” took hold – but before that, it was used in common household medicines and grown, sold and consumed freely. Now, we are finding a middle ground, where the plant is legal and becoming prominent in medicine once again – but in a far more regulated environment than ever before.
The hope behind this is that people will learn to consume cannabis responsibly – whether it be for medicinal or recreational purposes. There is always a point when a substance can be abused – even things like coffee and sweets can become abused if you don’t exercise self-control. But the benefit of a regulated industry is that it will keep the products safe, pure, and out of the hands of children and teens.
“Canada has recognized what Oregonians already understand: cannabis prohibition is a failed policy that wastes resources and destroys lives,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, where cannabis has been legal since voters approved the change in 2014.
If Canada’s new policy change proves as beneficial as it has in states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon, then it will be undeniably clear to prohibitionists that legalization is the route to take. There is no need to jail people for possession of a plant, and no reason this culture and industry should have been forced underground for so long.
“Now that our neighbor to the north is opening its legal cannabis market, the longer we delay, the longer we miss out on potentially significant economic opportunities for Oregon and other states across the country,” Wyden said.
For the time being, Canadians – and activists everywhere – are celebrating this change as Canada is the first major nation to move away from prohibition. Since it is a national law, provinces will have the choice to make some changes. But no matter where you go in Canada, the herb is legal. Banks, who are afraid to work with cannabis businesses in the U.S., will be able to freely provide services to the legal industry – providing them security and safety that we won’t have in the U.S. until similar policy changes happen on a national scale. Hopefully, seeing this work well for our neighbor to the north will encourage the U.S. federal government to make similar changes, sooner rather than later.