Free to Smoke Marijuana

Cannabis plant at close range.
An unidenttified person smoking marijuana.

In late 2018, recreational marijuana was legalized in Canada. This means that Canadians, as well as visitors to the country, can now smoke a joint and get high in public without fear of arrest or fines. The recent policy change has led a vocal opposition to fear that Canada is to become awash with light-headed hippies, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other politicians who made cannabis legal argue that the effects will be positive.

Sale in regular stores

According to Trudeau, allowing regular stores to sell marijuana takes away the market for criminal gangs to sell marijuana. And according to Trudeau’s reasoning, a policy of prohibiting regular stores from dispensing cannabis to minors makes the new cannabis policy responsible. Additionally, as part of the same pro-legalization argument, new tax revenues generated by cannabis sales strengthen the government, and destigmatizing pot smoking is only fair, since ingesting marijuana into one’s own body is not directly harmful to other people. In other words, there are many presumed advantages that come from marijuana legalization, and Canada — with one of the world’s highest shares of pot smokers already before pot was legal — through its 2018 decision, became the second country in the world to try to reap the benefits from nationwide legality.

Canadian pride

Happy to enjoy the new free environment, Canadian marijuana producers, who in other parts of the world would have been persecuted by the police, are now proudly showing off their expanding nurseries. Non-smoking Canadians also praise cannabis legalization, and the new tolerant policy is often boasted about when the Great White North is compared to other countries in terms of progressiveness. Still, complaints have been raised about the new drug policy arbitrarily picking corporate winners and losers in the now regulated market, and far from everybody in Canada is content with weed being whitelisted.

Negative effects on the brain

One of the problems with removing marijuana from the list of prohibited drugs, according to prohibitionists, is that it sends the signal that cannabis is harmless. This, they contend, is wrong, since cannabis negatively affects developing brains and there is a scientific consensus that brains are in the developing phase well into adulthood. Marijuana, it has also been said, can be a gateway drug, meaning that it can be the first step towards the usage of more dangerous drugs. However, it is difficult to determine how often pot smoking leads to abuse of hard drugs or other dysfunctional behavior, and most people who smoke weed recreationally tend to mostly see the perceived benefits of the drug, including its ability to help them relax and drift away in fuzzy thoughts. This though, is not to say that use of cannabis is risk-free, and the government and other groups have for a long time sought to find ways to better the lives of drug dealers and drug addicts who find themselves in a less than desirable situation.