REALity April 2019

The Fall-Out Caused by Canada’s Marijuana Legalization

On October 17, 2018, the Liberal government legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. The government justified this monumental change in our drug laws, which violate the U.N.’s international drug control framework, arguing that the law would:

1. protect the health and safety of Canadians;
2. keep marijuana out of the hands of youth; and
3. keep profits from marijuana sales from criminals and organized crime.

After only five months of the legal sale of marijuana, it can safely be stated that the law has failed to achieve any of these objectives.

One would not know this by way of our media however. The Canadian media provide stories on marijuana as unfailingly positive, frequently describing with delight the huge profits being made by the marijuana industry. To the media, it seems all that matters are these profits. The social and health fall-out from legalization is almost totally ignored.

The media also relish publicizing the names of prominent Canadians who have jumped on the marijuana bandwagon by becoming members of the board of directors or advisory councils of marijuana corporations in order to provide the corporations with credibility. These prominent citizens cheerfully wave at bystanders as the marijuana bandwagon rolls merrily on. These individuals include: Julian Fantino, former Minister of Defence and former Toronto Police Chief; Terry Lake, former B.C. Minister of Health; Mike Harcourt, former Mayor of Vancouver and NDP Premier of British Columbia; Kash Heed, former B.C. Solicitor-General and Minister of Public Safety; Senator Larry Campbell, a former RCMP officer (on the drug squad!), Mayor of Vancouver and Liberal appointed Senator; Lloyd Axworthy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs under PM Chretien , President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, (while in opposition, Axworthy supported tough on crime policies); Lorna Marsden, sociologist and former President and Vice- Chancellor of both Wilfred Laurier University and York University, a former Senator, appointed by Pierre Trudeau, who served as president of the radical feminist organization, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). The attitude of these individuals is that since marijuana is legal, why not get in on the profits? They do not consider the health and societal problems that result from the legalization of marijuana to be their problem.

The federal Liberal government is also happily taking its cut from the production, trade and distribution of marijuana. It is doing so to increase tax dollars flowing into its diminishing treasury. The Trudeau government has agreed to expand marijuana availability by permitting the sale of edible marijuana. This will be defined by regulation coming into effect in October, 2019. Edible marijuana could include marijuana-laced chocolate chip cookies or brownies, gummy bears or rock candy, and marijuana-infused juice, tea and specialty drinks. Perhaps the Trudeau government hasn’t noticed that the U.S. State of Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2013, has seen a 138% increase in hospital admissions for children who have inadvertently consumed marijuana products.

Medical Effects of Marijuana

The American Medical Journal of Psychiatry (February, 2018) published a study which concluded that teens who use marijuana are at a higher risk of developing depression and suicidal behaviour in young adulthood, compared with those who do not use the drug. This study was carried out by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. It concluded that marijuana use may be particularly harmful to developing teenage brains if consumed on a daily to weekly basis. This is an alarming study, given the prevalence of marijuana use among young teenagers: 33% of marijuana users are in the 15-24 year age group according to the National Cannabis Survey data.

Physicians have also observed that there has been an increase in lung cancer rates among patients, whose only apparent risk factor was marijuana smoking. Unfortunately, because marijuana has been illegal, there is a lack of research on the effects of marijuana smoke, which contains some of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke. The only study that has looked at long-time marijuana use and cancer was a New Zealand study from 2008 that found an increased rate of lung cancer among young adult marijuana users. Physicians are now requesting a national study be undertaken on the possible link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer.

Meanwhile, the federal government is squeezing growers of marijuana with a fee worth 2.3% of the revenues the growers receive. This fee is supposedly to cover the costs of regulating these growers. According to Statistics Canada, government marijuana is still more expensive than black market marijuana. This, in part, is due to the federal government imposing a dollar excise tax on every gram of legal marijuana, whether recreational or medicinal. This has reduced the profits made by legal sellers of marijuana to the advantage of those selling marijuana illegally. The current price of a gram of legal dried marijuana – that is, two or three joints’ worth, depending on how it is rolled, is $9.75 according to Statistics Canada. The same amount of marijuana from illegal sources costs $6.51. Predictably, marijuana is being purchased illegally by 35% of consumers, and the black market dealers of marijuana are laughing all the way to the bank or to their money-laundering associates.