Canada has just legalised the recreational use of marijuana nationwide making it the second country in the world to do so, after South American nation Uruguay.
Yesterday, as the Senate voted for Bill C-45 (also known as the Cannabis Act)–effectively legalising weed possession and sales for adults, and cultivation of up to four marijuana plants per household–Canada’s ruling government fulfilled one of their campaign’s major promises.
It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2018
Back in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party had promise to legalise marijuana claiming that it does more harm to categorise the world’s most widely-used drug as a harmful substance with strict punishment attached to its use and distribution. As an illegal product, the government cannot regulate it and it’s presence on the black market makes it easy for underage kids to purchase.
According to its campaign website, The Liberal Party had promised to “legalise, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana” as the “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.”
Another press release issued by the Canadian government last year stated that the current approach had “allowed criminals and organised crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth… In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.”
But America’s friendly neighbour is not out of the woods yet.
It remains to be seen if legalising cannabis would actually work for the better in the nation. Uruguay is relatively poorer and less liberal as a nation and thus can’t be used as an apt comparison. However, the United States which has 9 states that have legalised recreational use and 29 states that have passed the bill for medical use, could be a primer into how this would work.
We have seen that marijuana taxes do not exactly account to more than 1% of the state revenue of Colorado, so it can’t be considered as a massive economy-changing decision right now although some experts project that in the long term, the price of a joint of marijuana can go down as low as a teabag, and with more countries embracing the legalisation movement, the market could grow and develop beyond anyone’s present comprehension. President Trump has hinted that legalisation for recreational purpose could happen during his presidency.
Then there’s the issue of marijuana use itself. While weed has been proven to cause less fatal accidents–about one tenth–as compared to alcohol which has always been legal; long-term and heavy use of the substance could lead to dependency on cannabis, accidents (despite the comparison to alcohol), mental anxiety and disorders, including, in rare cases, psychotic episodes. On the other side of the argument, cannabis has never been linked to any serious ailments including lung disease or schizophrenia. There has never been a recorded death due to marijuana overdose.
On the question of how harmful it is to health in general, studies have shown that illegal weed may contain traces of fungi, pesticides and heavy metals, making it quite unhealthy to smoke on a regular basis. However, weed grown under more scrutinised conditions, such as the prized cannabis strains that have entered industry competitions, carry none of the harmful chemicals used to preserve the product in the black market.
While it’s common for weed to pop up in pop culture or to be seen/smelled around campuses, just remember that even Uruguay’s former President–famed for his simple farm-lifestyle and for making Uruguay first country in the world to fully-legalise pot–José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano compared excessive use of marijuana to alcoholism: “It is like alcohol. If you drink a bottle of whisky a day, then you should be treated as a sick person.”
Even though Canada has passed the bill nationwide, it is still up to each province to adapt the law to suit their locality. For instance, some provinces have already expressed their desire to stop the law allowing home cultivation of the plant.
It remains to be seen if Canada will become a model for successful implementation of these new pro-marijuana laws but the government’s main concern seems to be in the right place from the start, that is to keep weed out of the hands of minors and to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals who would otherwise have bright futures.
In Malaysia, where having just 200g of marijuana is considered trafficking and an offence punishable by death, development on legalisation has been moving at a snail’s pace. In May 2015, a Johor state assemblyman urged the MCMC to block a local Facebook page which was actively campaigning for the legalisation of marijuana and its recognition as a medicinal herb.
In 2016, Muhamad Ridhwan Muhamad Rosli, who is a Selangor Youth Parliamentarian, suggested that some youths did not view marijuana as a drug and that the number of drug addicts could be greatly reduced if the Government considered supervising the usage of ganja/marijuana. His opinion was quashed by Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk M. Saravanan who said that “legalising (cannabis) is not in line with our culture.”
Last year, Malaysian police arrested Dr Ganja, a self-styled ‘caregiver’ who marketed and sold marijuana-based products on Facebook as medicine with general health benefits that could also cure chronic diseases. Many of his former ‘patients’ have turned up during his trial to support him, some as young as 8 years old claiming that Dr Ganja had cured serious ailments that were plaguing them including epilepsy and autism.
Dr Ganja aka Amiruddin @ Nadarajan Abdullah, is currently facing 36 criminal charges related to the use, growth and possession of marijuana.
Should it be illegal and uncontrolled or legalised and controlled? Let us know in the comments…
Need a herbal alternative? You can try your luck with Ubat Batuk Cap Ibu dan Anak which is apparently getting famous in New York.