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Has Canada become the new Amsterdam?

By Aaren Abigail, November 7 2019—

In spite of what many think, and what some politicians would have you believe, the legalization of cannabis in itself was not to discourage drug use by making it more accessible to Canadians. Neither was it to reduce the amount of organized crime in Canada. It was a promise the Liberal campaign, led by Justin Trudeau, made to appeal to younger voters despite its risky consequences. 

It’s been a little over a year since the Federal Cannabis Act came into effect on Oct. 17, 2013 where Canada became the first G20 and G7 Nation to support the consumption and acquisition of cannabis. It’s been a year. Do we notice any difference?

First and foremost, given the high accessibility to cannabis the Act has provided, it should not come as a surprise that more teens would be at greater risk to gain access to purchasing this drug. According to Statistics Canada, about 5.2 million or 17 per cent of Canadians aged 15 years and older are reported to have used Cannabis in the first quarter of 2019 — a significant increase of four per cent to 14 per cent before legalization. The number of legal dealers has also grown exponentially as fewer users are reported to obtain cannabis from illegal sources in the first quarter of 2019.

Secondly, the legalization of cannabis and all its by-products has now led to a culture that cultivates an acceptance towards the attitudes teens bring in pressuring their friends to smoke pot. When a friend with heavy exposure to the recreational use of cannabis encourages one to smoke with him, the excuse, “No thanks, that’s illegal” is no longer valid. This subtle coercion slowly but surely becomes normalized when it should be condemned. As Former Member of the Canadian House of Commons, Rona Ambrose once said, “When you legalize something, you normalize it.”

Third, the normalization of the use of cannabis undeniably brings about health concerns to the general public. Cannabis contains substances such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) that can be detrimental to the brain and the body. Health issues of cannabis use can range from short-term risks including impaired thinking, concentration and memory, to long-term risks such as cannabis dependency and a negative effect on mental health. These risks can differ from one person to another depending on their age, sex, frequency of cannabis use and pre-existing medical condition. Teens however, are at a greater risk to experience harm from cannabis because their brains are not fully developed until about age 25. 

While yes, this legalization has allowed for the production and distribution of cannabis in Canada to shift from the illegal black market to legal businesses. Simply put, the legalization of cannabis has brought an opportunity to improve Canada’s economy. As the alcohol industry proves, intoxicating substances can be extremely appealing to various age groups and can make way for an extremely profitable point of sale. According to StatsCan, the Canadian Government has earned $186 million from taxes on goods related to the sale of cannabis. This profit is set to exponentially grow in the years to come.

Nevertheless, the negative impacts brought about by the legalization of cannabis to Canadian society have far outweighed the positive. If the government truly cares about putting children out of harm’s way, they should be trying to keep these drugs out of arm’s reach, instead of directly spoon-feeding them, along with the lies they keep shoving in their ears. It is fairly ironic that the Trudeau Liberals insisted that this act was to protect children, when it is the very thing that is endangering them.

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet‘s editorial board.

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