Canada’s current system of controlling cannabis use is failing and costing billions of dollars yearly to enforce. In 2014, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), released its Cannabis Policy Framework recommending that Canada legalize marijuana.
The CAMH report states, “removing criminal and civil penalties for possession of cannabis would eliminate the more than $1 billion Canada spends annually to enforce cannabis possession laws.”
$1 billion is a lot of money to spend on marijuana.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sees the potential for profit, and campaigned on legalizing, regulating and taxing pot. (He has also admitted to having smoked it in the past).
Trudeau’s Liberals did not provide estimates for tax revenue related to cannabis during the election campaign. But the pressure to legalize recreational pot is slowly catching on. As leader of a major political party, (and a past user), Trudeau needs to follow through with his campaign promise.
The Green Party of Canada estimated that legalizing pot would create an annual federal tax revenue of $5.4 billion by 2020. These astounding figures show that legalization and taxation of cannabis will allow the billions spent on the war on drugs each year to be turned into profit.
Colorado is one of four states in the U.S. to fully legalize recreational bud. The state is now buzzing from the economic benefits. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state has received nearly $70 million in tax revenue from cannabis from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, trouncing the almost $42 million in taxes on alcohol. Canada could see the same economic spike if they legalized recreational pot use and controlled it.
A recent poll on (The Dialog’s) website showed that over 80 per cent of people who took the poll favored the legalization and regulation of cannabis. Even though the Canadian public is becoming open to legalizing cannabis, politicians will have to effectively communicate how they would manage the supply and demand of recreational cannabis.
Our government will have to respond to any health effects resulting from the legalization of recreational pot. Education programs are needed similar to the health campaigns used to mitigate the unfavorable effects of tobacco and alcohol use.
The only country to fully legalize marijuana in the Americas is Uruguay. If Canada chose to also legalize this drug for recreational use, it would be a great milestone and influence drug-policy globally. Canada should lead the way on this issue internationally.