It’s time for the government to be more open-minded about cannabis use in Canada.
While marijuana has been illegal in Canada since 1923, there has been an increasing call for a change in perceptions surrounding the use of the drug.
As a recent article in the Canadian University Press explains, today’s youth views the substance very differently from their parents’ generation. While marijuana once carried a stigma, today’s generation doesn’t seem to take these previous stereotypes to heart.
The dissipation of this stigma isn’t without reason. As the BBC claims, the main critique of cannabis is that it has addictive properties and can be detrimental to concentration and development.
What lawmakers consistently fail to take into account is that this can also be said for tobacco and alcohol, both of which are legal substances.
There are known health benefits to cannabis use. According to the BBC, cannabis has been known to help reduce side effects of chemotherapy and ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It has also been used in the treatment of alcoholism and headaches.
There seems to be no reason for cannabis to be illegal while other equally, if not more, harmful substances are available to the public.
Cannabis is already very accessible to youth — prohibiting the substance hasn’t worked in diminishing its use in society. If anything, it’s only given criminal records to individuals who are caught using the substance. This only adds a financial burden on the government due to increased incarceration rates.
Cannabis can still be dangerous in some circumstances — however, through legalization, significant regulation of the drug can be put in place, as it is with tobacco and alcohol, to ensure that it’s used safely.
Legalization with education could also bring larger benefits to the government. Regulating cannabis usage means that the government can ensure the public health of the Canadian population. It also means that they will likely reap tax benefits from the sale of cannabis products.
The benefits of legalization or decriminalization outweigh the costs — it’s time to put aside antiquated stigma and move towards educating a responsible population about a substance that carries similar risks to tobacco and alcohol use.
— Journal Editorial Board
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