There’s been a lot of excitement building up in the Canadian chimney stack as of late. The buzz behind it all has a lot of sweet smoke ready to billow out the top, as soon as a few laws are changed in favor of cannabis freedom. In the meantime, people are optimistic as things are really beginning to seem as if Canada may become the new hub for the plant on this continent. That’s right, U.S.A.: It appears that our friends from beyond the northern border beat us to the punch by a long shot, and they’re justifiably quite proud of it.
♪ O Can-nabis…our humble native plant… ♫
Yep, while America is only about halfway through the battle of getting cannabis legalized nationwide for medical use at least, Canada has not only gotten it OK’d medically, but is working to legalize recreational use of the herb as well. Their major barrier at this moment is time—plus a little bit of confusion.
Since the law is looking to open up the heavens and restore to Canadians what was really their birthright to begin with, one can understand that there may be a little jumping of the gun going on. Some citizens believe, since cannabis is more than likely to get legalized anyway, that they are in the clear to do as they please. That isn’t the case.
Law enforcement is, however, weighing the worth of prosecuting people with very minor cannabis offenses, which in turn is creating a lack of consistency in procedures. On paper the law stands until there is an official change to the legality of discretionary or recreational cannabis use. Until that day in the hopefully not-too-distant future, it’s business as usual for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. No matter how small the offense, there’s still potential trouble for the party involved. Unfortunately for everyone, taking individuals to court for petty cannabis crimes is costly and exhausting. Besides, with the number of cases of this nature piling up, there’s bound to be a logjam.
Where’s the justice?
Canadian criminal defense lawyer Daniel Brown says taking people down for small amounts of cannabis “seems inappropriate…[T]here are serious cases being stayed or thrown out of court because of delay when the courts are clogged up prosecuting relatively minor marijuana charges. And it’s important to prioritize matters to ensure that the serious cases are the ones being prosecuted.” At this point can it really be considered justice to prosecute this, when it’s going to be legalized anyway?
Canada’s goal is to get recreational cannabis use legalized by spring of 2017. If all goes as planned in the agenda, it should go off without a hitch. A sea of happy Canadians will have freedom of choice to partake in the herb in virtually any way they prefer.
Chris Walsh, the editorial director of the Rhode Island-published Marijuana Business Daily, told the LA Times, “There is a lot of excitement and optimism from marijuana businesses and entrepreneurs in the U.S., who have their fingers crossed that Canada is going to pull this off.” The whole plan could mean big opportunities for businesses and investors who have had their eye on Canada as a huge potential market all along.
Cannabis in the U.S. is already a $4.4 billion industry, dwarfing the $150 million of Canada, with its much smaller population and fewer than 30 government-licensed businesses currently operating. (Five-year projections are up to $40 billion annually for the U.S.; and up to $10 billion annually for Canada, post-legalization.)
As the laws of the land begin to change and reflect the will of the people, there’s no telling just how profitable the business will become in the next few years. Imagine also, if the U.S. were to legalize cannabis on a federal level and create a green trade agreement with Canada, there could be some massive import and export business on the rise between the two titans.
Green on the horizons
The chief executive of the Ottawa-based National Access Cannabis network of education clinics, Derek Ogden, believes that “governments like Canada’s look at it (cannabis) as a revenue source and feel that it makes no sense to exclude all of this potential money from their coffers when people are going to continue to consume cannabis, and preventing them from doing so legally is just going to drive them to the black market.”
Next year should bring some massive changes for cannabis freedom in North America. So, keep your fingers crossed for a botanical breakthrough in Canada. Hopefully, it will inspire the U.S. to follow suit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garyn Angel is an inventor, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com. His company makes the Botanical Extractor, the appliance he invented for infusing cannabis into foods and lotions. Angel is committed to cannabis law reform and was named to the CNBC NEXT List of visionary global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—mainly veterans and children who need cannabis therapy when traditional treatment options have failed. Angel’s charity helps families relocate to states where cannabis medicine is legally accessible.