Marijuana Enthusiasts Might Be Flocking to Canada Soon

October 20th 2015

On Monday, Canadian voters elected a new, pro-marijuana prime minister, Justin Trudeau. If the Liberal party member follows up on his promise to legalize marijuana in the country, it could affect international drug policy in a significant way. In particular, legalization in Canada just might push the U.S. closer to lifting the federal prohibition of cannabis.

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"We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana," a statement on the Liberal party's website reads. "Canada's current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug."

Though the U.S. government has allowed states to experiment with legalization, marijuana remains federally illegal and lawmakers have been reluctant to introduce drug reform policies that go beyond the decriminalization of cannabis. In fact, approximately one marijuana-related arrest happens every 45 seconds in the U.S., according to federal data.

If Canada goes forward with legalization, it would be the second country to do so (the first being Uruguay).

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For some pot enthusiasts, that might make Canada a premier tourist destination. Just as states that have legalized recreational marijuana in America have seen an influx in pot tourism in recent years, Canada could reasonably expect to see more American stoners trekking up north, pending legalization. And considering the fact that stocks for Canadian cannabis companies spiked on Tuesday following Trudeau's election, it is also possible that the U.S. marijuana industry would seize opportunities in the neighboring country, moving their businesses and profits to a more accommodating region.

Maybe the fear of missing out on tax revenue from marijuana sales would be enough for the U.S. to reconsider its current drug policy, experts have suggested.

Canada cannabis comicGraeme MacKay - artizans.com

But while the Liberal party in Canada has championed its progressive cannabis policy, attracting young voters who care about the issue, a certain degree of caution should be taken before celebrating. There are international caveats to drug reform measures that need to be considered.

"From the 1960s through the 1980s, much of the world signed on to three major international drug policy treaties," Vox reported. "Combined, the treaties require participants to limit and even criminalize the possession, use, trade, and distribution of drugs outside of medical and scientific purposes, and work together to stop international drug trafficking."

"Marijuana legalization in Canada would act as the most high-profile rejection of these treaties, sending an important signal of the changing times as the international agreements come under a critical review in a special 2016 session of the United Nations."

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