Legal cannabis around the corner; don’t mess it up, Canada
On Wednesday, Canada will make history by being the first big country to legalize marijuana nation-wide, which if successful could serve as a model for other developed nations.
Uruguay is the only other state to have legalized it across the country, which it did in 2013, but with a population of 3.4 million, it’s about one-tenth the size of Canada.
So Canada is engaging in an experiment, one which will have consequences for cannabis legalization advocates worldwide.
There are still many unanswered questions, particularly in Medicine Hat, where our city has yet to determine its own regulations regarding the consumption of legal cannabis.
This, of course, isn’t the end of the world. It just means that on legalization day, the province’s regulations will kick on, which are much more lax than many Hatters wanted.
This will at least give the city the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t.
Of much more geopolitical significance, and with far less clarity, is the situation on the U.S. border.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who’s responsible for law enforcement throughout the land, is on the record saying, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He also said he thought the Klan was “OK until I learned they smoke pot”; he wasn’t referring to the WuTang Clan.
The States have dithered on allowing people from the Canadian cannabis industry into their country.
First they said cannabis workers wouldn’t be permitted into the country at all, but then pivoted on Thursday to allowing them in as long as they’re not travelling for business.
With increasing numbers of U.S. states legalizing marijuana, it’s only a matter of time before our southern neighbour follows our model.
It’s unlikely to happen under President Donald Trump and his hardline attorney general, but the Democratic party and more libertarian elements within the Republicans are certainly moving in that direction.
According to a Gallup poll from this year, 64 per cent of Americans support cannabis legalization, including a slim majority — 51 per cent — of Republicans.
By contrast, a mere 12 per cent of Americans supported legalization when the question was first asked in 1969 in the wake of the summer of love.
Times are changing and attitudes on cannabis are evolving along the way, just as they did with gay marriage, which was inconceivable even 20 years ago.
Older people, who have become accustomed to the way things are, may oppose legalization on instinct, but when push comes to shove, they’re not going to prevent it, just as was the case for LGBTQ rights.
Nine U.S. states — Alaska, Washington, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont — as well as Washington, D.C., have opted for legalization in recent years.
In the November midterms, two more states — Michigan and North Dakota — have legalizing recreational weed on the ballot.
If passed, the Michigan initiative will allow anyone to carry a whopping 10 ounces on themselves at a time. The Canadian law, for comparison’s sake, permits people to carry 30 grams — just over one ounce, which is still a lot for personal use — at once.
It’s becoming increasingly clear, at the very least in Canada and the U.S., that marijuana is significantly less socially detrimental than alcohol.
People who get too drunk get into fights. People who get too stoned order pizza and fall asleep. Don’t mess this one up, Canada. (Jeremy Appel is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)