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Societal Impact in a Comparative Analysis of Canada and the United States

  • 7 Pages
  • Published On: 1-12-2023
Introduction

Over the past few years, legalisation of Cannabis has become an increasingly controversial topic. According to Ellis, and Silverstone (2012), nations like Canada, have supported the fact that Cannabis should be allowed to be used as a medicine and recreated in medically approved forms. However, it is still banned in the United States. Legalisation of any product refers to the reversal of restrictions on cultivation, sakes ownership, and distribution of that product. This can be achieved through decriminalisation to remove the criminal penalties associated with Cannabis. Decriminalisation has also been associated with alcohol and tobacco use. In this essay, the question of whether the legalisation of cannabis is more beneficial for society than prohibition will be discussed. The essay statement of legalising cannabis has been supported and evidence of the benefits of legalising cannabis will be presented concerning the mentioned countries. The essay will draw legitimate comparisons with situations between the chosen country Canada and the United States.

Discussion
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Cannabis is often used as a medicine to provide relief from various medical issues. Studies show that controlled use of Cannabis improves sleep, and reduces nausea and vomiting. Cannabis contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) that provide relief from a range of chronic pain and help in supporting healthy weight gain in cancer patients (Ellis and Silverstone, 2012). It also improved appetite and improved quality of life in a closed study conducted in the year 2018 by researchers from Canada. Cannabis when taken in a controlled form can help with the treatment of symptoms like lack of appetite, AIDS, or multiple sclerosis. For example, Canadian law allows "adults and foreign residents to join a government registry to grow their pot, join a cannabis club or buy 40 grams a month at authorised pharmacies" (Hall and Lynskey, 2020). The country was second to legalise recreational marijuana use in the year 2018 after uruguay (Armstrong, M.J., 2021). The country regulates the market starting from production to consumption and distribution. The legalisation of Cannabis has contributed $11.2 billion to Canada's GDP and sustained 10000 jobs across the states. Research facilities in Canada are working on the development of a new Cannabis related project for treating people.

The ban was proposed in many countries since Cannabis comes under the substance use act of 1969. It can become an addiction quickly and contribute to mental health issues. The principal adverse consequences that can concur with Cannabis can be psychosis depression and acute cognitive or psychomotor control impairment. While countries like Canada are using Cannabis for medical causes, countries like the United States are facing a tremendous rise in the addiction problem of Cannabis. Smoking Cannabis has led to respiratory problems in the majority of people across the U.S. In the United States, many people with prolonged uses of Cannabis are facing short-term memory loss and poor concentration (Wesley, 2019). There was a reduced ability to think and make decisions with an increased chance of ending up in a motor vehicle accident due to lack of concentration. The further escalation of respiratory problems would be the increased risk of bronchitis and lung cancer.

On the other hand, it is important to ensure that Cannabis is properly controlled. Countries are establishing an educational campaigns to inform about the controlled usage and adverse usage of Cannabis. An educational campaign can help with the appropriate spread of information rather than misleading facts and myths (MacCoun et al. 2020). To ensure that Cannabis usage is under control, Canada established a legal framework for state control of the import, export, planting, harvesting, growing, production, acquisition, storage, and distribution of Cannabis and its derivatives. The country modified its Law 19.172 for controlling the country's overall Cannabis production and use rather than banning it (Thornton,2007). They have also spread pamphlets to provide education to answer questions regarding Cannabis uses and risks associated with it. The laws surrounding its use and the method of introducing its uses to the younger generation were written well in those pamphlets. The country used social media as a method of spreading awareness and controlling the use of cannabis rather than imposing a complete ban on it. Therefore, it can be commented that establishing a good educational perspective on the usage of Cannabis has improved the misconceptions around it.

By legalising Cannabis not only a controlled usage will be directed, but there will also be an overall revenue generated for the government. According to Fischer et al. (2020), the legal Cannabis industry contributed to the earning of $791 million by exporting marijuana by 2025. Producers of Canada have the first-mover advantage to gain a niche in export markets. The legalisation of Cannabis has provided a new source of income to the government and it reduces the costs associated with criminalisation of Cannabis. Banning the product was more costly than legalising it and getting the charges and taxes paid on time (Van Ours, 2011). Legal production and distribution of Cannabis in Canada have contributed to the central economy and the number of people employed. This shows how legalising is an effective way of improving the wealth of the government and keeping an eye on the uses of the product.

Even though the essay statement is correct rationally, legalising cannabis will make it easily accessible for minor and they can easily purchase it from pharma stores, supermarkets, or even from online channels (Spithoff et al. 2015). They might not consume it within limits which can adversely impact their health specifically mental health. From a social perspective, black people were roughly 5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for Cannabis violation. One should never forget that Cannabis is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. The increased availability of the drug might lead to normalisation of consuming it, leading towards a "decrease in IQ and difficulty in learning new skills" (Hall, and Weier, 2015). The consequences of consuming drugs in an uncontrolled way can weigh down the potential benefits of legalising Cannabis. Since decriminalisation takes place, minors in school are expected to fall prey to substance abuse. The age group to be most affected is 14 to 18 years in the US. A ban on the product is introducing a burden on taxpayers and more of the illicit market penetration of the product by wicked entrepreneurs. As per the WHO (World Health Organisation) research, Cannabis-related incidents have shown an increase of 20% in consumption by students (Hall, 2022).

For managing transparency of Cannabis use and control, the country has to set strong regulations on limiting the usage. The Canada government has controlled the production and supply, however, they need to come up with clear control on the age limit to whom the drug is being sold. According to Kilmer et al. (2021), the legal age should be marked as 21 for those who want to directly purchase the product from the pharmacy. Prohibition would only lead to a chaotic situation where it would become difficult to stop transport and sales of the product. Gradually it might create a condition where smuggling of the product will get started. Prohibition has contributed to the expansion of criminal entrepreneurs to expand the illicit market. Legislation of Cannabis ensures that the drug is sold responsibly and safely (Todd, 2018). The most important aspect is to spread awareness. With awareness spread online and offline media, decriminalisation will not affect the youth. For example, in the United States introduces a "Cannabis talk kit" show to help the youth discover the medical benefits of the product and manage its controlled use (Shover, and Humphreys, 2019).

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The controlled sales of Cannabis in Washington and Columbia in the United States successfully established the facts of using the product for medical causes. Without legal control, the misuse is expected to be much higher. The legalisation in the US has led to a 50% fall in Cannabis prices and a substantial increase in the potency of it. As depicted by Obradovic (2021), “profits from retail sales have also created a legal industry that is now lobbying to reduce cannabis taxes". The legal use can be beneficial only if nonprofit cooperatives such as Cannabis grower's clubs are producing the drug under the licensed limit settled by the government. Improving the advertisement on a public health-oriented approach to the legalisation of Cannabis sale and use is also expected to help the situation in lowering the risks with the drug. Mandated plain packaging, and introduced taxes based upon the THC content of cannabis products are some of the steps to minimise the adverse health impacts and legalise Cannabis use (Rehm, and Fischer, 2015).

Conclusion

From the essay, it is evident that the legalisation of Cannabis would be more advantageous for society than its prohibition. Legalising Cannabis is expected to allow for the regulation of substances and reduce the health risks associated with its use. It will also reduce the criminal element associated with the drug and generate revenue for governments as seen in Canada. On the other hand, prohibition is seen to be preventing the regulation of Cannabis and failing to reduce its use. This results in a large financial burden on taxpayers as one can see in the US example. In future research more political, and social aspects are thought to be explored which can be beneficial to society.

References

Armstrong, M.J., 2021. Legal cannabis market shares during Canada's first year of recreational legalisation. International Journal of Drug Policy, 88, p.103028. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30213-X

Ellis, T and Silverstone, D (2012) ‘Legalise Drugs? in Ellis, T and Savage, S (Eds). Debates in Criminal Justice, London: Routledge pp149-184.

Fischer, B., Russell, C. and Boyd, N., 2020. A century of cannabis control in Canada: a brief overview of history, context and policy frameworks from prohibition to legalization. Legalizing Cannabis, pp.89-115.

Hall, W. and Lynskey, M., 2020. Assessing the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use: the US experience. World Psychiatry, 19(2), pp.179-186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108610

Hall, W. and Weier, M., 2015. Assessing the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the USA. Clinical pharmacology & therapeutics, 97(6), pp.607-615. doi:10.1002/cpt.110

Hall, W., 2022. The costs and benefits of cannabis control policies. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2020.22.3/whall

MacCoun, R., Reuter, P. and Schelling, T., 1996. Assessing alternative drug control regimes. Journal of Policy analysis and Management, 15(3), pp.330-352. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6688(199622)15:3<330::AID-PAM1>3.0.CO;2-J

Kilmer, B., Caulkins, J.P., Kilborn, M., Priest, M. and Warren, K.M., 2021. Cannabis legalization and social equity: some opportunities, puzzles, and trade-offs. BUL Rev., 101, p.1003.

Obradovic, I., 2021. From prohibition to regulation: A comparative analysis of the emergence and related outcomes of new legal cannabis policy models (Colorado, Washington State and Canada). International Journal of Drug Policy, 91, p.102590. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.11.002

Rehm, J. and Fischer, B., 2015. Cannabis legalization with strict regulation, the overall superior policy option for public health. Clinical pharmacology & therapeutics, 97(6), pp.541-544.

Shover, C.L. and Humphreys, K., 2019. Six policy lessons relevant to cannabis legalization. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 45(6), pp.698-706. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2019.1569669

Spithoff, S., Emerson, B. and Spithoff, A., 2015. Cannabis legalization: adhering to public health best practice. CMAJ, 187(16), pp.1211-1216. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.150657

Todd, T., 2018. The benefits of marijuana legalization and regulation. Berkeley J. Crim. L., 23, p.99.

Thornton, M., 2007. Prohibition versus legalization: do economists reach a conclusion on drug policy?. The independent review, 11(3), pp.417-433.

Van Ours, J.C., 2011. The long and winding road to cannabis legalization.

Wesley, J.J., 2019. Beyond prohibition: The legalization of cannabis in Canada. Canadian Public Administration, 62(4), pp.533-549.


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