Canada Legalizes Cannabis, Prepares to Collect Taxes

Canada Legalizes Cannabis, Prepares to Collect Taxes

Friday, 19 October, 2018 - 05:45
A marijuana plant grows in a lab at the new Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, on October 9, 2018. Carlos Osorio, Reuters
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Canada has legalized the possession and use of recreational cannabis. It becomes only the second country - after Uruguay - to make the move. The marijuana drug has been legalized for medical purposes in Canada in 2001. A nationwide market selling the drug has opened, and until legal stores are more widely available, some unlicensed cannabis retailers, which have increased in recent years, may stay open.

But, apparently many still have concerns such as police readiness and their capacity to deal with driving violations committed under the drug effect. According to BBC, 15 million households received an explanation of the new regulations, and the local authorities announced the launch of awareness campaigns.

In the past few months, the provinces and municipalities have been preparing for the end of the cannabis ban, as they will be responsible for organizing the sale and consumption points. The regulation came in line with the promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, leader of the ruling Liberal Party, during the 2015 campaign. The prime minister defended the drug, saying that the criminalization laws applied for almost a century in Canada are ineffective because Canadians are among the top countries consuming cannabis. The new law had been designed to keep drugs away from minors and to prevent criminals from making fortunes. The federal government expects to earn $400 million a year from tax revenues on cannabis sales. The possession of cannabis in Canada was criminalized in 1923, but its use for medical purposes has become legal since 2001.

Canada followed Uruguay, which was the first country in the world to regulate the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes in 2013, and some US states voted to end the drug ban.

Cannabis use for medical purposes was also allowed in many European countries, including Portugal and the Netherlands, which concluded the criminalization of the drug.

The highest court in South Africa has legalized the use of cannabis for adults in private places in September; however, its trafficking is still criminalized.

Zimbabwe was the second country in Africa, after Lesotho, to regulate the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Last Monday, the Canadian Medical Association published an article describing the new legislation as "an uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are directly earned at the expense of Canadians' health."

There are still legal concerns about the new legislation, including serious doubts about the effectiveness of testing devices, and the potential increase of drugs-related driving cases in courts. According to federal government statistics, half of cannabis users do not believe their driving is dangerous after taking marijuana.

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