Many of the concerns revolving around legalizing the recreational use of cannabis address very valid points.
A key issue here is not so much that cannabis is a dangerous drug, rather that much of the public has yet to be informed of what legalizing cannabis will mean for Canadians, and of its true potential when used safely.
Some cannabis lovers and haters may not yet realize that the legalization of cannabis does not mean a free-for-all, and does in fact include many strict regulations in prohibiting the use of it.
Concerns for health and safety are actually a main reason for why cannabis should be legal both for medicinal and recreational use, not the other way around. Improper education on the matter has been a key factor in the misrepresentation of natures very useful herbal medicine.
So let’s validate three common reasons often argued for why this psychoactive herb should not be legalized, and how legalization can change the course of history for the cannabis community.
Legalizing Marijuana Causes Crime Rates to Go Up
There seems to be a commonality between naysayers of mother nature’s green goddess, with the idea that the use of cannabis will lead to more crimes in our society.
Imagine a time when a person would be criminalized for selling or possessing a bottle of whiskey during the prohibition on alcohol. Today that same idea sounds ridiculous.
Luckily, there have been several studies conducted on the link between marijuana and crime since its legalization in several states across the U.S.
According to, Pacific Standard, in the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization by economist Davide Dragone, there are interesting findings that offer a unique perspective into how legal marijuana is not quite a ‘gateway’ drug after all.
Despite popular opinion, Dragone, emphasizes that “an increase in crime does not appear to be plausible [as he compares] the costs and benefit of the legal drug market.”
Based on this case study, evidence shows that criminal activity significantly decreased after the legalization of cannabis in the state of Washington.
Between 2013 and 2014, where recreational cannabis is illegal in the state of Oregon, and legal in Washington, crime statistics and data on the consumption of alcohol and drugs were compared in both states. The economists conducting the research chose to expand the breadth of the study to focus on 10 counties in Oregon, and 11 in Washington, along with each side of the border.
Dragone spoke on comparing the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington, relative to the state of Oregon, and how crimes such as rape, were reduced between 15-30%. Thefts also decreased by 10-20%, in the state of Washington, between the two year time period.
It appears for this particular case that systematic crime rates seem to dissipate once cannabis is no longer deemed criminal, no less the people who use it.
Legalizing Marijuana Will Put Youth at Risk
There is much debate from rightfully concerned parents and advocates against the legalization of recreational cannabis, in that it will put youth at risk once it becomes the norm.
Much on the contrary however is that Canada’s plan in legalizing cannabis is to regulate the substance, so as to protect youth from using it and accessing it on the streets. The goal is to bring it into the public sphere for it to be enjoyed responsibly by adults.
More importantly then that is for the public to be fully educated on the true effects of cannabis, rather than maintaining it as this mysterious underground drug. People should be equally made aware of its health benefits along with the health risks.
Introducing the Government of Canada’s health campaign for Legalizing and Strictly Regulating Cannabis: The Facts. The purpose of the Cannabis Act, according to the Government of Canada, is to offer a framework for regulating the productions, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis.
This all, in turn, will allow adults to both responsibly enjoy mother nature’s herb deity recreationally, and allow those who need it to reap its health benefits use it as well. Much like most pharmaceutical drugs, and many of natures other medicinal herbs, they can be both very helpful and also very dangerous.
Another advantage for cannabis enthusiast out there is that legalizing it will allow adults to possess and access the substance with the assurance of it being quality controlled as well.
No one likes being ripped off by paying too much for something that is low grade. So, when it comes to purchasing, for all intents and purposes, cannabis should be both affordable and of the best quality.
So how can Canada ensure that this will mean safe measures for youth?
Health Canada’s proposition to protect youth under the reformed Cannabis Act will provide even more strict regulations on the premise that, “no person could sell or provide cannabis to any person under the age of 18.” So, legalizing cannabis will mean more freedom only for responsible users.
As for efforts to prevent youth from both purchasing and using the substance, this act will prohibit the legal market from promoting cannabis as an appealing product to youth. It will also not allow the selling of cannabis through self-service, such as vending machines, as well as prevent the promotion of cannabis through advertisements that will be seen by youth.
Marijuana is Highly Addictive, so Legalizing it Promotes Substance Abuse
A study from Health Canada, confirms that cannabis does in fact have addictive qualities, among other health risks. Much like an array of other over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs, if people are not well educated on risk factors of a substance then even the most natural substances can be harmful.
However, cannabis is no man-made product, so if big pharma companies can thrive, then Health Canada’s study should be a guidance for Canadian’s to utilize the benefits that cannabis has to offer, not as a hindrance in legalizing it.
More importantly, what we should also be asking is if the government has the best intentions in mind, to educate the public on addiction prevention, and to offer relief from those suffering from addiction.
Lest we forget that many pharmaceutical drugs, if misused, can also be highly addictive. So more often than not, it’s not the drug itself, rather how someone chooses to use it that will have the greatest impact.
The Star addresses the question of how much the public actually believes the governments warnings on the negative side effects of cannabis, over the all the excitement of the herbs economic benefits, once it becomes legalized.
“The Prime Minister argues passionately that legalization will reduce youth and adult access to high-potency marijuana distributed to criminal gangs in a manner that nourishes addiction,” states The Star.
All the while addressing the need to ‘blunt the sting of stigma’ around addiction, The Star emphasizes contrasts in popular opinion vs. Health Canada’s study on addictive qualities of cannabis, conducted by RIWI corp. The importance is in getting the public to “understand the ill effects of addiction to any addictive substance,” so that ultimately addiction sufferers can seek help.
While promoting the legalization of cannabis for all that it has to offer to the economy, it should not be at the expense of the public’s health, especially given much of its potential for medicinal use. Lest we have yet another substance on the public market that causes more harm than what it is intended for.
At the end of the day, this is really all about making informed decisions for everyone who wishes to expand their understanding of cannabis as a natural herb. Cannabis should be seen as a gateway for its breakthroughs in health benefits, as well as its perfectly natural elements for relaxation and fun times. Taking the time to properly educate ourselves for this new change will ultimately be what helps us use it safely and not have it be pushed back into the underground market.