In a world in which many governments are coming up with regulations that might make you wonder what they were smoking, it’s pleasant to see one government pointing the way towards safe, legal access to cannabis that will set an example for countries that follow in its footsteps.
Canada will soon be rolling out its policies on legal recreational marijuana, and the primary recommendation from a panel formed to determine a framework for legal cannabis has recommended that the focus be on stamping out the black market.
That may seem easier said than done, but the National Post reports that the recommendation comes with some excellent strategies for making it a reality.
From seed to user
Canada wants to make sure that cannabis is fully traceable along the supply chain from seed to user. The products produced must be approved by Health Canada, and this will eliminate the types of contamination that are all too common in black market weed. To make this possible, the panel suggests that recreational cannabis be sold for prices that are significantly lower than the black-market buds. This will not only discourage people from growing cannabis illegally, it will also remove all motivation among users to turn to the illegal trade.
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Cannabis to be controlled much like alcohol
Unlike the US, where people have to get to a dispensary to buy recreational cannabis, Canadians will also be able to get it through mail order. On delivery, the recipient must show proof that he or she is of legal age, and this is expected to be set at 18 or 21 years old.
This is no different to the way in which wine is bought and delivered to people’s homes in Canada already, so the process will be a familiar one. Marijuana is already available on prescription in Canada, and the progress towards full legalization for recreational use is well underway. Some analysts predict that Canada will be ready early in 2018.
Provinces are deciding for themselves how cannabis will be sold. Currently, the only legal distribution network is through the post, but some states may choose to license pot shops, or may even allow liquor stores to obtain licenses for selling marijuana.
It’s not only about the tax money
Although Canadian legislators concede that taxing what is a multi-million-dollar industry will boost government revenue, they say it’s not the whole reason for its aim of stamping out the black market. Its primary concern is that recreational cannabis should be kept out of the hands of children. Product safety is also at issue, and plans to use the government owned mail service for distribution will help to boost its flagging revenues too.
Admittedly, keeping cannabis supply at a lower cost than the black market will limit revenues, but legislators believe that putting an end to black market cannabis will provide benefits that far outweigh the reduced tax bill for producers, sellers and consumers.
This approach is in sharp contrast to the US states such as Washington that tax cannabis very heavily and still struggle with a burgeoning black market. The world will be watching Canada when it implements its new policies, and it seems that they will be positive for all but profiteers.