Roundtable: Cannabis Act has shortcomings

Credit: 
Tessa Warburton
The Cannabis Act has incredible potential to drive both economic and societal progress in Canada. However, the federal government’s current marijuana regulation only benefits privileged members in our society. 
 
The act’s shortcomings derail any socioeconomic progress it makes. Failing to clearly outline how revenues can be reinvested to create value and mitigate negative repercussions of the policy causes Bill C-45 to target marginalized groups in Canada. 
 
Under the new cannabis regulations, in certain provinces, those who’ve 
trafficked marijuana before will have a much tougher time becoming eligible to sell the drug legally. In Alberta, anyone who wants to open a dispensary but has had previous drug-related offences will be ineligible for a retail marijuana licensce. Those who’ve been previously convicted of drug-related offenses are disproportionately poor people of colour. 
 
The federal government is providing expansive business opportunities for private retailers with legalization, which simply adds to the wealth of predominantly white business owners from higher socio-economic backgrounds.
 
They’re failing to acknowledge the racially-biased past of drug criminalization, the fate of those previously criminalized, and the future of dealers—who currently make $15,000 to $50,000 in annual income from dealing. 
 
To make it even more challenging for those of lower socio-economic status, the government’s pricing motive for cannabis is to eliminate black-market suppliers. But for drug dealers, the decision to sell is made out of necessity and circumstance. 
 
By the government’s standards, the previous source of livelihood for these individuals will be eliminated. Because of their past, they’ll be barred from economic opportunities they are familiar with.  
 
Amendments should be made to Bill C-45 to ensure profits from the sale of recreational pot would be reinvested in the public.
 
Furthermore, tax revenues from cannabis sales could be allocated to provide job training for black-market drug dealers, counselling for those struggling with addiction, and funding for drug-offence reparations. 
 
The Cannabis Act provides resources for the government to ease the transition of the groups most likely to be adversely impacted by legalization. 
 
More importantly, the act provides opportunity for the right socio-economic change. 
 
The government can funnel funds into targeting the systemic adversities which cause people to turn to illegal drug trafficking in the first place. 
 
Alice He is a second year Commerce major.

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