Legalization’s effects thus far

Published Jan 25, 2019 05:02 p.m. ET

 The effects of legalizing weed in Canada have yet to be fully felt since it has only been legal for two months, which isn’t enough time to provide sufficient data. However, what can be said with confidence is the differences people hope to see with legalization based on evidence and statistics of other regions such as Colorado where recreational marijuana has been bought and sold for several years now.

Marijuana legalization facts

  • It is legal in most regions of Canada to possess up to 30 grams in public, and up to 150 grams in your home.
  • It is currently illegal to purchase cannabis seeds as there are no licensed producers or vendors.
  • It is legal in most areas of Canada to grow up to four plants either inside your home or on personal property though some places have specific rules that must be followed like keeping them out of sight or access to minors.
  • It is legal to purchase dried cannabis and cannabis products from any licensed vendor.
  • The Cannabis Act allows each province and territory to govern their own rules and regulations surrounding the transport, public use, and growing of marijuana.
  • It is legal to smoke cannabis almost anywhere cigarettes can be consumed including your home, private property, and outdoors as long as it is at least 25 meters from family events, children's playgrounds, and schools.
  • It is legal to use cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use in Canada.
  • It is legal to create your own THC infused edibles, but they are not legal to sell.
  • Cannabis concentrates and tinctures are legal to make and for licensed vendors to sell.
  • It is illegal to smoke cannabis while in a moving motor vehicle. The same under the influence driving laws that apply to alcohol also apply to marijuana.
  • The legal age for purchasing and consuming cannabis is 19 in most provinces with only a few lowering it to 18 years of age.

Problems in Canada since the legalization of weed

Luckily the problems in Canada since the legalization of weed for recreational use are fixable if given time, but many people aren’t happy. One of the most significant benefits to the legalization of marijuana was supposed to be easy access to cannabis which has proven difficult particularly for those in Ontario who have no option but to order directly from the OCS (Ontario Cannabis Store) website which has been fraught with problems since it’s rolling out just after midnight on the first day of legalization.

Shortages

Shortages have been the largest issue faced by both provinces and private vendors since legalization with demand far outweighing anything that could have been expected and millions being spent across the country. It wasn’t long before several customers were greeted with either limited options or completely closed doors. Many would argue the government has plenty of time to prepare and arrange for a much larger number of cannabis producers in time for legalization. Others disagree saying there was no way to predict the overwhelming number of people who would be flocking to line up before stores even opened. Luckily the government has since approved an additional 210 growers of various sizes with more on the way, which should help to solve the issue of empty jars on dispensary shelves.

Mail strikes

Canada Post began rotating strikes beginning two days after legalization came into effect. Bringing outstanding orders to a halt, or in the very least a snail's pace leaving customers waiting days and even weeks longer than promised by various government websites and dispensaries. Since

Canada Post is responsible for the delivery of all government sold marijuana this left provinces like Ontario with customers impatiently waiting with no other options to obtain some green.

Website difficulties

With mass amounts of people logging on at the same time, many online servers were slow with periods of being completely down when they ultimately crashed. This made it impossible for Canadians to even view prices or products available and made placing an order impossible. Those who were lucky enough to log on while the sites were up and running were faced with incredibly low selection within mere hours of opening. It also seems some websites like OCS had no back-up plan to stop orders once they no longer had the product to fill them. This led to frustrated customers spending hours on the phone, often times never making contact or receiving answers as to when they would get their orders. With some customers reporting the charges mysteriously vanishing and canceled orders with absolutely no warning for up to three weeks after their promised delivery dates.

Quality of product

The quality of what many customers received, particularly from mailed sources was brought into question when YouTube lit up with unboxing videos of people weighing and examining cannabis products to find problems like mold, short counts, and a disgusting amount of plastic packaging which didn’t appear to protect the weed contained within.  

The effects of legalization on teen use of cannabis

Highly debated is the overall effects of having cannabis so widely available to our youth. With pot being more accessible, it’s often argued that there will be higher levels of teen use. However, what isn’t taken into consideration is the cultural shift that the legal acceptance of cannabis will have on teen use. Much like alcohol that is found in many homes with children across Canada, the more marijuana use is glamorized, the more it will likely be ingested. What was seen in Colorado after legalization is that while teen use did go up, no one knew how many teens were smoking in the first place and teen use of other much more harmful substances like narcotics and alcohol went down? It could be argued that while teen use appeared to go up, it isn’t clear how much while teen use of other substances dropped by 10%-15% across the board within the first year.

It is a legitimate concern to worry that your adolescent or teen may be partaking in cannabis at an age where consistent use could affect their development. The most effective tool we have to combat that fear is education. Now that weed is legal; we can educate our children on all the effects, including the benefits and the drawbacks of consuming cannabis on a developing mind. They should also be made aware of what it looks like and different forms it can come in so if they come across something they shouldn’t be touching they know to immediately get an adult. Cannabis use should not be glorified and should be explained in a matter of fact way that allows the child to ask questions openly. All Cannabis products kept in a home with underage children should be stored away in a locked, inaccessible box. With knowledge comes great power and a much higher level of safety that can help to keep all underage adolescence safe in this new world of legal marijuana.

Benefits of legalizing weed in Canada

While it’s too early to say for sure what benefits of legalizing weed in Canada will be felt by residents, one thing is for sure. No one will be going to prison over their choice to use marijuana over other legal options such as alcohol, or pharmaceuticals that can be incredibly damaging to a person's health and come with a wide range of known adverse side effects. Weed should become more accessible as dispensaries open and as more people learn to cultivate their marijuana. There will also now be more security in the purity of the product a customer purchases, and a safer environment where it can be accessed where there isn’t another illicit activity or other illegal drug choices presented. Overall, the legalization of weed in Canada has and will continue to benefit the people for years to come.

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