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The potential benefits of the legalization of marijuana to the society

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Notwithstanding a century of prohibition, marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in Canada.

Due to the growing public acceptance of recreational marijuana use and ineffectiveness of the existing control system in Canada, the issue surrounding legalizing this illicit drug has received considerable public and political attentions in recent years. Consequently, the newly elected Liberal Government has formally announced that Canada will introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 to start legalizing and regulating marijuana.

This editorial aims to provide a brief overview on potential economic, social, and public health impacts of legal marijuana in Canada.

The Economic Benefits of Legalizing Weed

Nevertheless, it may also lead to some public health problems, including increasing in the uptake of the drug, accidents and injuries. The legalization should be accompanied with comprehensive strategies to keep the drug out of the hands of minors while increasing awareness and knowledge on harmful effects of the drug.

In order to get better insights on how to develop an appropriate framework to legalize marijuana, Canada should closely watch the development in the neighboring country, the United States, where some of its states viz, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska have already legalized recreational use of marijuana. It is one of the oldest naturally psychoactive substances known to humans and grows naturally in many countries. Although it is illegal to use marijuana for recreational purposes, its use as a potential therapy is legal and deemed appropriate by the Supreme Court of Canada since July 30, 2001.

Canadian youth has the highest rate of marijuana use among developed countries, with almost a quarter of the population aged 15 to 24 years reporting past-year use. Decriminalization of marijuana would mean that the personal use of the substance is still illegal and can lead to a small legal fine, but no longer classified as a criminal offense.

Legalization of marijuana, on the other hand, means that marijuana would be legally available to adults. The proponents of the legalization, for example, argue that the use of marijuana is much less associated with income generating crime because it is insignificant component of household budgets and has lower danger in terms of possibility of overdose, risk of tragic intoxicated behavior and risk of addiction.

The issue of legalizing marijuana have been featured by multiple news agencies since 2015 eg, 1819. Subsequently, the newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publically endorsed the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in November 2015 and is currently working on the legal framework to introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 to start the process of regulating and legalizing marijuana.

There is still a lot of work to be done if Canada aims to pursue the Liberal goal of legalization of Marijuana. There are three international conventions that Canada is a part of that and need to be changed in order for any progress to be made: All these international conventions require its participant countries to criminalize the production and possession of marijuana.

Impact on Tax Revenue

Although it may not be necessary for Canada to completely withdraw from all these conventions, Canada should indicate that legalizing recreational marijuana will reduce the consumption of the illicit drug. This editorial briefly reviews some of the potential economic, social and health outcomes of legal marijuana in Canada.

Economic Impacts The most appealing argument in favor of legalization of marijuana is the increased tax revenue that it would bring to the Canadian economy. Legalizing marijuana provides an important advantage over prohibition because it allows for the Government to collect taxes from the legalized drug.

Benefits of Marijuana for the Community

Specifically, high demand for recreational marijuana in Canada indicates that legalization of the drug would yield significant tax revenue. The free market price of marijuana is estimated to be particularly low without taxation. This allows for the Government to impose higher taxes on marijuana while keeping the price at a competitive level with other intoxicants eg, alcohol and tobacco. Colorado has gained international interest as one of the first states in the United States to allow for legal buying and selling of marijuana.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada could generate substantial taxation revenue due to the presence of significant black market for marijuana as the second most consumed substance nationwide, behind only that of alcohol.

The legalization could result in the employment of more workers who can grow and package marijuana for sale in the Government approved grow-ops. It also could generate some other job opportunities for individuals who can work in educational sessions and health promotion initiatives to promote safe use of the drug.

  • Legalization of marijuana could lead to substantial savings in drug incarceration and enforcement costs in Canada;
  • This editorial aims to provide a brief overview on potential economic, social, and public health impacts of legal marijuana in Canada;
  • Governments also stand to make money from legalization around the world because of the amount of money in tax revenue that it will send their way;
  • A journey into the consciousness of marijuana shows a plant that is willing to help everybody in the community;
  • Income and Jobs Setting up marijuana nurseries and dispensaries would be the first step for the states that voted in favor of medical marijuana.

Nevertheless, due to automation and economies of scale, legalization would probably reduce the overall employment in Canada because the number of legal jobs generated eg, growers, distributors, and accountants would probably be smaller compared to the number of illegal jobs eliminated. Legalization of marijuana could lead to substantial savings in drug incarceration and enforcement costs in Canada. Social Impacts The high demand for marijuana in Canada has resulted in the expansion of the black market and puts the power in the hands of illegal drug dealers to be the sole providers of the product with no accountability.

By taking control of the distribution of marijuana, legalization could reduce the flourishing black market for the drug, which is the cause for a large amount of illegal activity in Canada as indicated by the rate of police-reported marijuana offences. The illegal market for marijuana is a major risk to the well-being of Canadian children. It should be mentioned that while legalization will reduce the size of the black market activity, it will not eliminate the issue altogether.

Background

While marijuana-related mortality was estimated to occur due to the causal effects of marijuana use on motor-vehicle accidents and lung cancer, the number of morbidity cases attributable to marijuana use was by far the highest in motor-vehicle accidents and use disorders domains in Canada.

Increased in marijuana-related traffic deaths 41 and utilization of healthcare has been documented in Colorado after the availability of the legal marijuana. There have been also increases in the marijuana-related healthcare utilization due to intoxication, burns and cyclic vomiting syndrome and eating edible marijuana among children in Colorado.

Specifically, a comprehensive framework should be developed to prevent the impaired driving, provide better access to treatment and increase awareness about the drug and its effects in Canada. The profits and saved tax dollars could be spent on public education and health promotion programs. However, legal marijuana can also lead to some public health problems, including increasing in the use of the drug, accidents and injuries.

Legalization could be only effective if the Canadian government develops appropriate strategies to keep the drug out of the hands of minors, to increase awareness and knowledge on harmful effects of the drug and to prevent impaired driving.

Canada is not the first country that attempts to end prohibition of marijuana. Countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal, Uruguay, and the United States have experienced a change in their marijuana prohibition policies and can provide useful lessons and models for Canada.

  1. These are the kinds of products that people like to buy, and they go a long way toward damaging the environment and causing negative health effects. It was reintroduced into legality in the USA when it was legalized for medicinal reasons in California.
  2. Increased in marijuana-related traffic deaths 41 and utilization of healthcare has been documented in Colorado after the availability of the legal marijuana.
  3. Instead, they can experience the medicinal benefits of CBD without the stoned effect.
  4. This is probably half the reason that marijuana has been such a focal point for this issue for so long.
  5. However, the growth model that marijuana has for the world is completely different. We have found so many ways to treat people with marijuana, through smokeable cannabis to edible cannabis and even topical application.

More specifically, Canada should follow the developments of changes in marijuana-related regulations in the United States, where some of its states viz, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska have already legalized recreational use of marijuana. Although experience of legalization in these states is different from the national legalization in Canada, these examples still can provide valuable information during the drafting of the new law in Canada.

Moreover, legalization of marijuana in Canada will offer a unique opportunity to study the effect of legalizing marijuana on the national scale. Acknowledgments The author would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. I also thank Michael Lebenbaum for his proof-reading of the final draft of this paper.