Marijuana Vote a Game-Changer for Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be dismissive about the fact that the states of Washington and Colorado voted in favour of legalizing marijuana last week, but they have set the stage for a game changer, however complicated.

Ironically, last Tuesday’s vote on the day of the U.S. election fell on the same day that the Harper government’s Safe Streets and Communities Act with tougher drug possession laws came into effect.

Whether Harper likes it or not, individual states in the U.S. are inching forward while Canada’s drug laws are going backwards.

The game changer is that Colorado and Washington are the first states to vote in favour of the sale and use of small amounts of recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana laws have existed in some states for well over a decade (California was the first to legalize medical marijuana use in 1996) and Canada has a formal system to regulate the medicinal use of the plant. In the U.S., 18 states and the District of Columbia (over one third of the country) now have similar laws in play. In 2011, the medical marijuana business was worth US$1.7 billion and growing.

Granted, enacting the voting outcome in Colorado and Washington is going to be a complicated and probably lengthy process for policy makers. They have to find ways to reconcile state law with U.S. federal law under which marijuana is illegal. But the forces of change to repeal prohibition have been nipping at the heels of policy makers for decades.

– Read the entire article at Chilliwack Progress.

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