Since 1997, public opinion polls have found an increasing majority of Canadians agree with the statement, “Smoking marijuana should not be a criminal offense “.
The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Medical marijuana patients in Canada can legally use all forms of the drug. Restricting patients even to dried marijuana for medical purposes has been declared “null and void” by the court. As of April 1st, 2014, the Canadian government, through Health Canada has introduced a new regulatory framework (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation – MMPR) regulate all MMJ products, business and operations.
A 2015 poll conducted by Forum Research showed that 68% of Canadians are now in favor of relaxing cannabis regulations and hope to see a change in the communities. And it seems supporting Canadians might have a pretty good chance of seeing that happen.
The new Liberal government of Canada has promised to act quickly to legalize marijuana for general use, which would make Canada the first G-20 country to end cannabis prohibition on a national level.
The Liberals point out that more than 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for simple possession of marijuana, and the number continues to grow. They say it is a needless destruction of lives. Each year, the federal government spends as much as CA$500 million (NZ$557 million) on drug enforcement and prosecution, according to the auditor general. About CA$50 million go to raiding marijuana plantations. These figures do not include the money spent by provincial and municipal authorities.Yet a large number of people still use cannabis. For about a decade, studies have shown that past-year use among Canadians age 15 to 24 is the highest in the developed world, with a recent study putting the rate at 24.6 per cent. For adults 25 and over, the figure drops to 8 per cent.
Justin Trudeau raised eyebrows when he admitted to having dabbled in marijuana while a member of parliament, but his pledge as prime minister to legalize pot has been broadly cheered. He said in a policy speech on Friday that his Liberal government would introduce legislation as early as 2016 to legalize marijuana, making Canada the first in the G7 bloc of industrialized nations to do so, although precise details remain sketchy.
Only six firms were initially licensed by Health Canada to grow and sell medical marijuana in 2014. The number of licensees has since shot up to 26.
Details of the Liberal plan haven’t yet been released. However, it is expected to go much further by not only legalizing marijuana but also creating a regulated market for it, as Uruguay and a few US states have done.
“We are looking to the United States and the Colorado experience, the Washington experience, and we hope to learn from that.”