Irrespective of Ohio’s refusal to approve a monopolistic cannabis legalization scheme, with recent bipartisanship legislation in Congress, the U.S. appears to continue on course to expand access to medical marijuana patients while respecting individual states’ rights. Recently, the U.S. Senate, authorized the Veterans Administration to recommend medical cannabis to veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal and in June 2015 voted to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in states that allow medicinal use of the drug.
However, for our neighbors to the north, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent overtures to expand legal protections and civil liberties of Canadian citizens are acting more swiftly. On Friday, November 13, Prime Minister Trudeau issued a mandate letter to Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, in which he indicated urgency to put Canada’s long history of putting cannabis prohibition behind them. Ordering his top legal hammer to unite forces with other department heads, the Prime Minister minced no uncertain words and issued clear instruction to “create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
While growing support of legal cannabis in the U.S. is far behind Canada, the Canadian Prime Minister’s unequivocal support could inspire the nation to its south to accelerate efforts to ease restrictions and expand access nationwide. Prime Minister Trudeau’s actions may have an impact on the U.S. Federal Government to accelerate policy reforms that would be consistent with currents trends in the U.S. of liberalizing cannabis law across the country. The Prime Minister’s actions in concert with recent bipartisanship actions in the U.S. Congress, signals growing support among both nations to expand broader protections of legal cannabis.
However, citing concerns about the current political climate, Matthew Goldberg, Esq, a nationally recognized authority on cannabis regulatory law and an Oregon-based attorney, is cautiously optimistic:
While recent bipartisan support in Congress is encouraging, my concern is that the current political climate related to the 2016 presidential campaign will inhibit progress in the U.S. toward any kind of comprehensive legislative solution to harmonize U.S. federal policy with the work certain states have done to bring the cannabis industry out of the shadows.
Prime Minister Trudeau is making good on his campaign promises to immediately legalize cannabis across Canada. After all, the move to “legalize and regulate [nationwide] access to marijuana” is a key component of the Liberal Party’s official platform.
The Liberal Party’s platform states, “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”
By bringing to fruition a legitimate cannabis commerce scheme coupled with a legalization regulatory framework, Canada will essentially put an end to the black market and cease criminalizing users of cannabis on a national level. Although action may be swift, we have no idea just how long it will take Trudeau and his parliamentary allies to implement reforms. However, given Trudeau’s expedient action on the issue, it appears likely that he will relentlessly continue to stay the course until a comprehensive plan to tax and regulate marijuana in the same way alcohol is put into practice.
Canadians appear to support Prime Minister Trudeau. Earlier this month, according to a new Forum Poll, Canadians stand firmly behind the Prime Minister, with 6 out of 10 Canadians expressing support for nationwide cannabis legalization.
The source of the majority of this enthusiasm is reportedly coming from communities where the young and affluent call home. However, while Canadians are firmly in support of legalization, they are not looking for a “wild west” atmosphere. The report also indicates that Canadians remain committed to seeing cannabis sold under a tightly-regulated market with government oversight.
“Now that marijuana legalization is a likelihood rather than a vague promise, Canadians are considering the issue more closely than in the past,” Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff claimed in a recent statement. “[Canadians] are just as much in favor of legalization as they were before the election, if not more, but they want to see it strictly licensed and controlled, not grown in basements and sold in corner stores.”
Cannabis Usage Among Canadians
Currently, fewer than one-fifth of the population, just 18% of Canadians have used Cannabis over the last year.
(Source: Forum Research)
Predictably, usage among younger Canadians is the highest at 34%. Should legalization in Canada become a reality, a significant increase in usage in unlikely. According the same Forum Research poll, few more than one tenth of those who do not use marijuana now indicate they will be likely to use it (13%), and fewer, about one twentieth (4%) are “very likely” to do so.