Canada made history on October 17th, 2018 by becoming the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis. The country’s journey towards legalization started in 2001, when medical cannabis was first introduced for individuals with chronic health conditions. Over the years, the medical cannabis program expanded, leading to the eventual legalization of recreational cannabis for adults.
The legalization of cannabis in Canada has had a significant impact on society, with both positive and negative consequences. In this article, we’ll explore the history of cannabis in Canada, the legislative process leading up to its legalization, the current state of the cannabis industry, and the impact of legalization on different aspects of Canadian society.
The History of Cannabis in Canada
The use of cannabis in Canada dates back to the indigenous peoples, who used the plant for medicinal and spiritual purposes. However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that cannabis started to gain popularity in the country. By the early 20th century, cannabis was widely used as a recreational drug, leading to calls for its regulation and eventual prohibition in 1923.
Over the years, the use of cannabis remained illegal in Canada, with law enforcement cracking down on individuals and organizations involved in its production, distribution, and sale. Despite the prohibition, the use of cannabis continued to be prevalent in Canadian society, with individuals using it for recreational and medicinal purposes.
The Medical Cannabis Program in Canada
In 2001, the Canadian government introduced the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), which allowed individuals with chronic health conditions to access medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation. Over the years, the MMAR program expanded, leading to the introduction of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) in 2013, which aimed to regulate the production, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis in the country.
The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada
In 2015, the Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced its intention to legalize recreational cannabis in Canada. The process towards legalization was a long and complex one, with the government having to consider the views of various stakeholders, including law enforcement, health organizations, and the cannabis industry.
Finally, on June 19th, 2018, the Senate passed the Cannabis Act, which legalized recreational cannabis in Canada. The act allowed individuals over the age of 18 to purchase, possess, and consume up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent. The act also regulated the production, distribution, and sale of cannabis, with each province and territory having the responsibility of setting its own rules and regulations for the industry.
The Current State of the Cannabis Industry in Canada
The legalization of recreational cannabis has led to the establishment of a thriving cannabis industry in Canada, with various companies entering the market to take advantage of the growing demand for cannabis products. The industry has also created thousands of jobs and generated significant tax revenue for the government.
However, the industry has faced several challenges since its inception, including supply chain issues, regulatory barriers, and competition from the black market. Despite these challenges, the industry has continued to grow, with the market expected to reach $7 billion by 2023.
The Impact of Legalization on Canadian Society
The legalization of cannabis in Canada has had a significant impact on various aspects of society, including health, law enforcement, and the economy.
Health: Legalizing cannabis has led to an increase in public education and awareness about the drug, which has helped to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about its use. However, there have been concerns about the potential health effects of cannabis, particularly for young people.