Going a Different Kind of Green

In Canada, there is something new to talk about other than traffic and the weather. The impending legalization of marijuana has been on everyone’s minds, and just like any other big political change, many of us are unsure where we stand on this topic. Surely, there are many things to consider as we can see with the actual legislation in parliament, so let us dive right in.

Marijuana has long been readily available in Canada; this is no secret, but how will making it legally available actually help?

Keeping the dangers of marijuana in mind, it is important to look at how we can reduce them. Research has shown marijuana to affect the cerebral development of teens and adolescents, so an age limit for purchasing it is a must. Even discussions around setting the minimum age at 21 is not far-fetched, allowing us to reduce the negative impact on teenagers and young adults. Although greater research is still required to increase our understanding of marijuana and its use in society, legalization could be the first step.

After legalization, proper investigation and statistical analysis can help to allocate appropriate social resources to addiction and mental health services. By collecting data and information about the sales, usage and health concerns relating to cannabis, we can begin to get a better picture of how to manage this substance and soon-to-be product. Legalization would presumably allow the production of cannabis to become a regulated industry and can thus allow Canada to become one of the top exporters of cannabis products. Having said that, not many countries currently share the same outlook on marijuana, but that could soon change. The establishment of the cannabis industry can help to further regulate these products; by controlling the percentages of active chemicals in cannabis, it’s possible to reduce its health risks even further.

Upon the legalization of marijuana, many public institutions must prepare for its effects on society as a whole. Public institutions, including law enforcement, must create new provisions to ensure public safety; this should include new driving regulations and proper treatment of driving under the influence similar to alcohol. These provisions must also seek to alleviate the burden of small criminal charges laid against individuals using or possessing cannabis products. Many minority groups who are disproportionately affected by such laws are sure to feel the relief.

It’s still unclear how such a big transition will affect us, but the details being hammered-out in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park should be met with careful considerations in the best interest of the public.

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