The Transform Drug Policy Foundation, an independent charity dedicated to reducing drug-related harm, finds Canada’s legalization successful in its latest report, “Capturing The Market: Cannabis Regulation In Canada.” Since making marijuana recreational in 2018, Canada’s Government and Transform has been working towards a smooth transition of legality with a robust framework and list of advised regulations. The result was a comparison of the Canadian government’s main goals, protection of youth and public health, and criminality amongst the transition from an illegal to the legal market.
Senior Policy Analyst at Transform, Steve Rolles explains:
“Canada took a bold and important decision to regulate cannabis legally. They should be commended for getting the complex regulatory framework up and running, but inevitably there have been some teething problems as the new market has been rolled out which should be resolved as the implementation progresses.”
The 50-page report included an in-depth analysis of the structure instilled from growing, processing, and producing with mentions of sales, products, and facility licenses. Some highlights include effective regulations and positive adaptability between Canadian Provinces and their systems. Unfortunately, Canada’s lack of emphasis on critical issues of decriminalization and the threat of potential monopolies mirror similarly to the US model.
In Cannabis Legalisation in Canada-One Year On, Transform states: “In comparison [to the US], the social justice and components of Canadian regulation appear inadequate, and something of an afterthought in the legalization regulation process.” Canada has been criticized for its lackluster approach. Similar to the US Assembly Bill 1793, Canada created Bill C-93 as a tool to hurry and eliminate the legal process cost. So far, only created post-legalization has resulted in 500,000 people affected. Critics blast Bill C-93 for not providing “effective amnesty” and “full expungement.”
Steve Rolles continues:
“Other countries should learn from Canada. Alongside the positives, there have been mistakes – including the failure to hardwire social equity and the expungement of criminal records into federal legislation. Perhaps most importantly, we must guard against allowing a small number of large scale corporations to dominate the market, given past experiences with alcohol and tobacco.”
First-year profitability shows that potential monopolies are inevitable to the market. Major Corporations like Canopy Growth, Cronos Group, and Aurora Cannabis have been most successful amongst first-year producers, with profits in the high millions and billions. “Micro-cultivation,” which limits growth area to 200 metres, and licensing classes showed potential for creating a balance for small businesses. “Despite hopes that the introduction of ‘micro-cultivation’ licenses would open the market to smaller producers, this has not been the case.” Regrettably, some provisions like the requirement to have an established facility before applying for a license has already discouraged new applicants.
Canada’s model is a step in the right direction for the legalization of marijuana. However, the more significant issues are ominous. Time is a significant factor in gauging its implementation, but then The Cannabis Act is only deemed successful from the potential of profitability. Charities like the Transform Drug Policy are critical assets towards a successful transition, but before the conversation goes in-depth of products and production, societal effects require a response. The adoption of countries making strides to legality is a success. However, looming contentious topics like decimalization and the danger of capitalism show Canada still has a lot more work.