Canada becomes the second country in the world to legalize marijuana
For decades, cannabis activists have argued marijuana should be legal. They say the health risks are minimal, there's evidence of therapeutic benefits, and the massive sales revenue is a boon for cities. But despite the popularity of legalizing weed, governments have been slow to take action. (If only they could make marijuana as healthy as alcohol and cigarettes!)
But perhaps we're reaching a turning point on the devil's tobacco. In news that will surely delight Seth Rogen, Canada has become the the second country in the world to legalize marijuana. The first? Uruguay. I know, right? I thought it was The Netherlands, because of Amsterdam's liberal reputation, but no. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize weed. So now you have one reason to book a trip there!
On Tuesday night, the Cannabis Act passed the Canadian Senate 52-29. This makes Canada the first G7 country to legalize marijuana, and hopefully the United States will get a sweet contact high. Canadian Prime Minister and Man Way Too Handsome For Politics Justin Trudeau actually campaigned on this issue in 2015. Trudeau's Liberal Party believes legalizing marijuana will keep the drug out of young people's hands and "remove the criminal element" in the illicit market.
"It's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits," tweeted Trudeau, possibly in between bong hits. "Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate."
Senator Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill, praised the news, which was long a time coming. "We've just witnessed a historic vote for Canada," said Dean. "The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government."
Cannabis activists hoped legalizing weed in Canada might be a "gateway bill" to other country legalizing "Canada's progress will galvanize support for drug policy reforms in the US and all around the world," stated Hannah Hetzer, the senior international policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, agreed. "We applaud Canada for showing federal legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy."
Just like the liquor laws, the minimum age to purchase marijuana is 18, and some totally lame provinces might raise it to 19. Recreational sales will begin in eight to 12 weeks, and profits are expected to be a huge benefit for the economy. By the year 2020, the legal cannabis market will be a $6.5 billion industry, according to The Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce.
However, there's no news on the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are incarcerated over marijuana-related offenses. Activists argue they should be given amnesty, since the laws are outdated. Time will tell if the government will address this issue. Anyway, congratulations to the Great White North - soon to be Great Green North.