And so we have it. After 10 years under the leadership of Stephan Harper and the Conservative government. Canadians have officially elected in a change with Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party now taking position as Canada’s new leader.
I’m sure there are many changes on the horizon under this new leadership, and one of the most controversial has been the Liberal party position on the legalization of Marijuana.
At a campaign stop in Surrey, British Columbia, Justin Trudeau was asked about his plans for the legalization of Marijuana. Justin replied with conviction that if he were elected into office he would “get working on it right away.”
That was the point where this became a large topic of discussion across media platforms and within our communities. With many people viewing this as something negative which will lead to our children growing up in a world with drugs readily available to them.
But the fact of the matter is that we already live in that world. We can currently buy alcohol at just about any block in our neighbourhoods. When looked at perceptively, alcohol is a much more harmful drug than Marijuana. When we look at alcohol as a drug, you can make some pretty damaging observations. Long term health effects of heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to the damage of one’s brain, heart, liver, and immune system. In the short term, for many people it triggers aggressive behaviour leading to domestic disturbances. These including physical altercations and even death. It affects one’s ability to make sound judgements, such as individuals who are inebriated insisting they are capable of driving. Long story short, drinking alcohol is the equivalent of taking small doses of poison to alter one’s state of mind to feel additional enjoyment – and this is not healthy.
Now although this is not news to anyone, alcohol is still very prevalent in many households. We all know grown men who are heavy drinkers. Many of us were drinking alcohol well before turning the legal age to do so. In today ’s day and age, it is not uncommon at for woman to enjoy an evening of conversation over a few glasses of wine, something which was very taboo in Indian culture not too long ago. We accept alcohol as a drug, because it is legal, and available.
Marijuana on the other hand is quite the opposite. It is a natural plant, not at all poisonous. Evidence of its naturalness can be found by travelling to countries such as India, where you can see marjiuana plants growing openly on the side of the road or in farms with no human interference. People who are users of marijuana are typically not aggressive. Marijuana is not addictive, and can be used to heal many medical issues, which otherwise may need to be treated with harmful pharmaceutical drugs which can have negative side effects.
So what can we expect to see with the new legalization and regulation of Marijuana?
To get a good idea, let’s look to our neighbours in the South and see what changes have taken place in their economy. Colorado was the first state in the US to move to full legalization, followed by our direct neighbour, Washington, and soon to be followed by the state of California.
For our purpose, let’s look at Colorado. Marijuana was first legalized there in January of 2014. After one year, Colorado was able to report that one of their biggest benefactors was the private sector with many businesses flourishing with increased tourism. They saw an immediate decrease in violent crime, with that trend continuing through the year. And the state generated an additional 40 million dollars in tax revenue within the first 10 months. In fact, the government under estimated its potential tax revenues so much that residents will most likely be given back a onetime tax rebate from the excess this year.
Now with this in mind, consider what changes we can foresee in Canada. We will have hundreds of millions of new tax dollars available to help in many parts of our economy such as education and healthcare. The Fraser Institute estimates that the BC Marijuana industry is a 7 Billion Dollar industry, just as lucrative as our mining industry and with regulation it can grow to be much more. Currently, these are billions of dollars goingdirectly into the pockets of drug dealers. Marijuana legalization will help curb gang violence, as this will remove the largest cash cow many Canadian gangs rely on to make their income. A decrease in crime also means saving money in Law Enforcement, or giving our officers time focus on other issues. For those worried that their children will have greater access to Marijuana, I would like to assure you that this is not true. Kids will have much less access to purchase it from drug dealers who will sell to anyone regardless of their age, whereas government regulated Marijuana sales will be similar to alcohol and tobacco, which cannot be purchased without proper ID stating you are of legal age.
Some may think that Marijuana is deadly. Rest assured that a human cannot overdose on Marijuana, no matter how much you intake. In 2006 B.C. Vital Statistics documented 8,146 deaths linked to addictive substances. Of these, 7,958 were associated with alcohol and tobacco, and 188 linked to drug overdoses, of which 146 were heroin or cocaine related. The one substance conspicuously absent from addiction-related death reports is Cannabis (Marijuana). On the contrary, Cannabis has many usesto aid people in a variety of health ailments and can be taken in the form of food, pills, mixing powder, oils, creams and ointments. With Marijuana legalized, the Canadian public will have full access to this natural choice of effectively treating many issues associated with mental and physical health including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and joint pain/arthritis to name a few. Patients undergoing cancer treatment have for years championed the benefits of using medical marijuana over harsh pharmaceutical drugs to ease their constant pain, and they will now have access to do so legally.
Once Marijuana is fully legalized, you may see it being used much more frequently in public places. Do not be alarmed, as this is bound to happen. People who currently use Cannabis behind closed doors will be more open about their use. And just as we saw the consumption of Alcohol increase dramatically in the United States after the lift of Prohibition, we can expect the same for the first little while in this case, until it becomes a norm and usage tapers down.
For certain, we should continue to educate our young on the negative impact of all drugs. But the legalization of this drug is around the corner, and as a society we all need to be educated on the expected benefits that our Canadian economy can expect over the years to come with this bold move from our newly elected government. These expected benefits coming in the shape of a large boost in our generated tax revenue and secondly a decrease in major crimes across our Country.