Canada just legalized marijuana. That has big implications for US drug policy
Canada has become the first wealthy nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana. The Senate approved Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, on Tuesday, June 19th, 2018 . The measure was already approved by the House of Commons, so the Senate’s approval means it’s now set to become law. The measure legalizes marijuana possession, home growing, and sales for adults. Canada is striking a balance unlike that of the US’s legalization experiments so far.
So far in the US, the eight states that have legalized pot sales have done so with a model similar to alcohol. (Vermont has only legalized possession, not retail sales.) Basically, they’re setting up their systems to allow a for-profit pot industry to flourish, similar to the alcohol industry. Drug policy experts, however, often point to the alcohol industry as a warning, not something to be admired and followed for other drugs. For decades, big alcohol has successfully lobbied lawmakers to block tax increases and regulations on alcohol, all while marketing its product as fun and sexy in television programs, such as the Super Bowl, that are viewed by millions of Americans, including children. Meanwhile, alcohol is linked to 88,000 deaths each year in the US. If marijuana companies are able to act like the tobacco and alcohol industries have in the past, there’s a good chance they’ll convince more Americans to try or even regularly use marijuana, and some of the heaviest users may use more of the drug. And as these companies increase their profits, they’ll be able to influence lawmakers in a way that could stifle regulations or other policies that curtail cannabis misuse. All of that will likely prove bad for public health (although likely not as bad as alcohol, since alcohol is simply more dangerous). There are policies that can curtail this, some of which Canada’s plan will allow.
Original Article (Vox):
Canada just legalized marijuana. That has big implications for US drug policy.
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