Canada has just become the second country in the world, following Uruguay, to legalize recreational marijuana. Adults in Canada will now be allowed to buy, use, possess, and grow recreational marijuana under the new law. Authorities have said they will soon announce plans to pardon Canadians who have been convicted of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. The legalization of cannabis is expected to create an industry worth more than $4 billion in Canada.
Being the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana has its perks. For one, Canada can learn from Uruguay’s struggles to build a more effective model. Uruguay legalized marijuana in July 2017. But since then, the development of the industry has been frozen due to the lack of legal framework, international protocols and conventions, and a limited legal supply. Already marijuana retailers across Canada have reportedly been experiencing shortages just one day after the law was passed.
With Canada, Uruguay and some 30 states in the U.S. having legalized recreational or medical marijuana, the Western Hemisphere’s approach to the “drug problem” is changing. As mentioned, a major challenge to the success of Uruguay’s legalization of marijuana is the inability to tap into U.S.-regulated financial systems like U.S. banks or major credit card networks, which are forbidden from money from marijuana sales. Yet, the continued legalization of cannabis in states across the country poses a challenge to the U.S. Justice Department in the enforcement of federal anti-narcotics laws and opening an obvious contradiction between its domestic drug policy and the international supply-side strategy of the United States.