Canada has become the first G7 country to nationally legalize marijuana for recreational use, in other words “for fun”. On Wednesday, October 17, the law goes into effect, allowing the drug to be sold and purchased throughout the country. According to the new rules, from now on, every Canadian resident over the age of 18 is also allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and even grow no more than 4 cannabis plants in their own home for personal consumption.
Marijuana will go on sale after the necessary transition period of 8 to 12 weeks to adapt the trade. And already in the near future in Canada there will be a legal marijuana market of several billion dollars. According to local authorities, in 2017, residents of the country spent a total of nearly 4 billion euros on the purchase of illegal cannabis.
Trudeau’s election promise
Canada legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes back in 2001. And in the 2015 election, the legalization of cannabis “for recreational use” was one of the election promises of the country’s current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A bill to allow recreational marijuana use was introduced in the Canadian Parliament last April. By June 2018, both the lower and upper houses of Parliament had approved its finalized version.
Proponents of legalization believe that such a move will keep teenagers from using cannabis and destroy the black market for the drug. And that may well happen, according to Justus Haucap, professor of economics at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf. The former chairman of the German Monopolies Commission cites the experience of the American state of Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014.
A key factor is the price of marijuana
“You can’t wipe out the black market overnight. It will take some time,” notes Haukap, who is currently trying to calculate by how much tax revenues to the German budget could increase in the case of full legalization of marijuana in the country (since 2017 in Germany you can buy cannabis in a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription. – Ed.). Haukap himself is a supporter of such a measure. At the same time, along with the legalization of cannabis, it is necessary to conduct information campaigns to explain the negative consequences of its use, the expert stresses. n
However, whether marijuana consumers will refuse the services of dealers will depend on the price of cannabis. According to Haukap, it should not be too high. That said, in Colorado, the price of cannabis has risen 10 to 20 percent since legalization compared to the drug’s black market value.
Meanwhile, official authorization to sell marijuana will ensure quality control, while cannabis purchased from dealers is often diluted and contains pesticides and other harmful impurities. At the same time, cannabis should not be too cheap, because the actions of the Canadian authorities should not lead to a wider use of the drug, the expert points out.