Cannabis legalisation in Canada: can we do it better?

seedman

The legalisation of recreational cannabis use in Canada in 2018 felt groundbreaking. The realisation of a long-held dream for many relatively quickly rolled out, provided a beacon of hope: that the cannabis plant would finally be liberated, that cannabis laws could no longer be used to maintain social and racial injustice, and that young adult lives would not be blighted with unnecessary convictions for using their drug of choice. Two and a half years on, many of the promises made by Trudeau’s government have not been fulfilled, and numerous activists involved in pushing for change feel disillusioned and disappointed. Some are outright livid. Although removing possession charges (for up to 30 grams of cannabis) is clearly a positive step towards a fairer justice system, legalisation in Canada has some serious shortcomings. Issues that should have been prioritised, such as amnesty and record expungement, diversity and inclusivity within the legal industry and accessibility to high quality, fairly priced cannabis products, have yet to be realised. A struggling legal cannabis industry Despite the initial ‘green’ rush, it’s no secret that for-profit cannabis companies in Canada have struggled. Most of the major players have had to scale back significantly, lay off staff, close supersized greenhouses or merge with others to stay afloat and keep shareholders happy. Reasons for this include the poor judgement of the potential market size and a slow and uneven roll out of retail outlets across the provinces, which resulted in an overproduction of cannabis with nowhere to go. This was, of course, compounded by a slow transition of customers from the illegal to the legal market. Regulatory costs and bureaucratic hurdles to overcome hiked the price of legal weed up considerably, making it hard for suppliers to compete with illegal growers. These hurdles also made the industry harder to…

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