by Michael Joel-Hansen
It is March and soon the summer of legalization will be upon us. For those who may not know or who have forgotten coming this July it will be legal for the first time for people in Canada to buy and consume cannabis for recreational purposes.
The legislation which will make marijuana legal marks a major turning point in drug policy for Canada.
Until relatively recently when it came to dealing with drugs, the kneejerk reaction tended to be one where banishment was considered to be the best policy.
This banishment naturally pushed the drugs and the people involved with them into the shadows of our society. In many cases those involved with these illicit drugs were given wide latitude to carry out business as they saw fit. In some cases this may mean beatings for people who are unable to pay their debts.
Recently fentanyl deaths have been a major issue all across Canada.
This issue hit home in a big way this week when police in Saskatoon took the unprecedented step of putting out a public notice asking people who had bought cocaine from a certain dealer to turn the drugs in to them and face no charges. In the alert the Saskatoon police published the dealer’s street name and phone number.
This warning came after two deaths and several overdoses linked to the one dealer were reported. Now some may be asking how this relates to where we started off, talking about the coming legalization of recreational cannabis.
Where it all comes full circle is that the recent issues with fentanyl clearly indicate that what we have is ultimately a health crisis. People, who are using certain substances are dying or being seriously hurt. The fact the substances are illegal is not dissuading people from using them and them being illegal is keeping them in the shadows, where shady people are allowed to operate with near impunity.
This is also what happens when something is allowed to operate in the shadows without any real regulations.
At least for people who use cannabis and marijuana they now will be have the opportunity to buy it from a licensed vendor who is regulated and also very unlikely to take their money and not provide them what they paid for.
I am not prepared to call for all illicit drugs to be legal, but what is clear is that the status quo on Canada’s drug policy on illicit drugs leaves too many people vulnerable to situations like what happened in Saskatoon this week.
The new policy on recreation marijuana and cannabis will not be perfect and there will for sure be kinks that need to be worked out along the way.
But in the grand scheme of things it will help to bring part of what had previously been in the shadows into the light, and at the end of the day this will be a major positive for everybody.