Marihuana may be legal in Canada by July 1 of next year, 2018. In the next few weeks, the Federal Government will begin to roll out the legislation that will make that happen.
Early reports suggest the Federal Government will set the legal age for the use of marihuana at 18 years old; but will allow the Provinces to increase the legal age within each province. Just as the legal age for drinking alcohol is different from province to province, the age for the legal purchase and use of pot may differ from province to province.
Each of the Provincial Governments will be able to decide how and where marihuana will be bought and sold; and at what price. Similar to the way in which Provincial Governments currently control how alcohol is bought and sold. The Federal Government will be in charge of licencing pot producers.
How much money with the Federal and Provincial Governments make from the sale of legal pot? Will the police be ready to adapt to these changes in the laws? Some insight can be gained by looking south of the border, to Colorado – a US State that legalized pot over 4 years ago.
Overall, the legalized system in Colorado appears to have worked well. They have not seen a spike in teenage use of marihuana; they have not seen an abuse of edible products; and have not seen a real increase in marihuana consumption that some feared might happen with legalization. The people that did not use marihuana before legalization, continue to not use marihuana after legalization; those that used illegal pot, continue to use marihuana, now in its legalized form.
In the third year, the legalized marihuana industry in Colorado was worth a billion dollars. The challenges have surrounded how to create the legal framework, from scratch: knowing how to regulate the edible marihuana products was one issue – making sure the THC content in those products was not too high; and not allowing those products to look like candies, or otherwise be too attractive to young people
For now, the production, possession and distribution of marihuana continues to be illegal in Canada; the laws have not changed yet. As we move forward with the anticipated legalization, expected challenges may include how to tax legal pot at the appropriate rate to minimize an ongoing black market for pot; and how to deal with public safety issues – keeping pot out of the hands of young people; giving police the proper tools to deal with drivers impaired by marihuana.