Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana in Canada: Review of Potential Economic, Social, and Health Impacts

Document Type: Editorial

Author

School of Health Administration, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Abstract

Notwithstanding a century of prohibition, marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in Canada. Due to the growing public acceptance of recreational marijuana use and ineffectiveness of the existing control system in Canada, the issue surrounding legalizing this illicit drug has received considerable public and political attentions in recent years. Consequently, the newly elected Liberal Government has formally announced that Canada will introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 to start legalizing and regulating marijuana. This editorial aims to provide a brief overview on potential economic, social, and public health impacts of legal marijuana in Canada. The legalization could increase tax revenue through the taxation levied on marijuana products and could also allow the Government to save citizens’ tax dollars currently being spent on prohibition enforcement. Moreover, legalization could also remove the criminal element from marijuana market and reduce the size of Canada’s black market and its consequences for the society. Nevertheless, it may also lead to some public health problems, including increasing in the uptake of the drug, accidents and injuries. The legalization should be accompanied with comprehensive strategies to keep the drug out of the hands of minors while increasing awareness and knowledge on harmful effects of the drug. In order to get better insights on how to develop an appropriate framework to legalize marijuana, Canada should closely watch the development in the neighboring country, the United States, where some of its states viz, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska have already legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Highlights

Commentaries Published on this Paper

  • The Devil Is in the Details! On Regulating Cannabis Use in Canada Based on Public Health Criteria; Comment on “Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana in Canada: Review of Potential Economic, Social, and Health Impacts”

          Abstract | PDF

  • The Challenges of Projecting the Public Health Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Canada; Comment on “Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana in Canada: Review of Potential Economic, Social, and Health Impacts”

          Abstract | PDF

Keywords

Main Subjects


"Watch the Video Summary"

  1. Ben Amar M. Cannabinoids in medicine: A review of their therapeutic potential. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;105(1-2):1-25. Doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.02.001
  2. Cayer A. The “High” Economic Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana in Canada. http://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/bitstream/10393/25386/1/2010_cayer_aaron.pdf. Published 2010.
  3. Adler JN, Colbert JA. Medicinal Use of Marijuana — Polling Results. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(22):e30. Doi:10.1056/nejmclde1305159
  4. Rotermann M, Langlois K. Prevalence and correlates of marijuana use in Canada, 2012. Health Rep. 2015;26(4):10-15.
  5. George T, Vaccarino F. Substance Abuse in Canada. Ottawa, ON; 2015.
  6. Morse T. Decriminalization Versus Legalization of Marijuana. http://uspolitics.about.com/od/warondrugs/fl/Decriminalization-Versus-Legalization-of-Marijuana.htm. Published 2016.
  7. Caulkins JP, Kasunic A, Kleiman M, Lee MAC. Understanding drug legalization. Int Public Health J. 2014;6(3):283-294.
  8. Svrakic DM, Lustman PJ, Mallya A, Lynn TA, Finney R, Svrakic NM. Legalization, decriminalization & medicinal use of cannabis: a scientific and public health perspective. Mo Med. 2012;109(2):90-99.
  9. Joffe A, Yancy WS. Legalization of marijuana: potential impact on youth. Pediatrics. 2004;113(6):e632-e638. Doi:10.1542/peds.113.6.e632
  10. Salomonsen-Sautel S, Sakai JT, Thurstone C, Corley R, Hopfer C. Medical marijuana use among adolescents in substance abuse treatment. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012;51(7):694-702. Doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2012.04.004
  11. Thurstone C, Lieberman SA, Schmiege SJ. Medical marijuana diversion and associated problems in adolescent substance treatment. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011;118(2-3):489-492. Doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.03.031
  12. COMPAS Inc. Canada: Two-Thirds Favour Decriminalizing Pot. Toronto, Ontario; 2000.
  13. Savas D. Public Opinion and Illicit Drugs Canadian Attitudes towards Decriminalizing the Use of Marijuana. Vancouver, BC; 2001.
  14. SES Research. Perceptions on Marijuana Decriminalization. Toronto, Ontario; 2005. http://www.sesresearch.com/news/press_releases/PR February 28 2005.pdf.
  15. Angus Reid. Half of Canadians Support the Legalization of Marijuana. Vancouver, BC; 2010. http://angusreidglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/2010.11.29_Drugs_CAN.pdf.
  16. Forum Research Inc. More than Two Thirds Support Decriminalization/legalization of Marijuana. Toronto, Ontario; 2013. http://www.forumresearch.com/forms/News Archives/News Releases/50140_Federal_Trudeau_-_Marijuana_(24082013)_Forum_Research.pdf.
  17. Froum Research Inc. Support for Marijuana Legalization Steady at More than Half. Toronto, Ontario; 2015. http://poll.forumresearch.com/post/1362/just-one-tenth-think-current-laws-are-appropriate.
  18. Evans P. 20% of Canadians smoked pot last year, but more than 30% would if legal, poll suggests. CBC News. November 10, 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marijuana-pot-poll-survey-1.3312151.
  19. Armstrong J. Majority of Canadians support decriminalizing marijuana: poll. Global News. August 19, 2015. http://globalnews.ca/news/2173919/majority-of-canadians-support-decriminalizing-marijuana-poll/.
  20. Smith J. Marijuana legislation coming to Canada next spring. The Star. April 20, 2016. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/04/20/marijuana-legislation-coming-to-canada-next-spring.html.
  21. Blanchfield M. Legalizing pot in Canada wil run afoul of global treaties, Trudeau warned. CBC News. January 5, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-legalizing-pot-global-treaties-1.3390745.
  22. Glauser D. The economic effects of legalizing marijuana. http://content.lib.utah.edu/utils/getfile/collection/etd3/id/1880/filename/1882.pdf. Published 2012.
  23. Government of Colorado. Colorado Marijuana Tax Data. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/revenue/colorado-marijuana-tax-data. Accessed April 20, 2016. Published 2016.
  24. Government of Colorado. Marijuana Taxes, Licenses, and Fees Transfers and Distribution. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/1215 Marijuana Tax%2C License%2C and Fees Report.pdf. Published 2015.
  25. Canadian Center on Substance Abuse. Cannabis. Ottawa, Canada; 2016. http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/CCSA-Canadian-Drug-Summary-Cannabis-2016-en.pdf
  26. Shenfeld A. Economic Insights: The Winter of Our Discontent. Toronto, Ontario; 2016. http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/eijan16.pdf.
  27. Cotter A, Greenland J, Karam M. Drug-Related Offences in Canada, 2013. Ottawa, Canada; 2015.
  28. Nolin PC, Kenny C. Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy. Ottawa, ON; 2002.
  29. Crépault J. Cannabis Policy Framework - CAMH. Toronto, Canada; 2014. http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/influencing_public_policy/documents/camhcannabispolicyframework.pdf.
  30. UNICEF Office of Research. Child Well-Being in Rich Countries: A Comparative Overview. Florence, Italy; 2013.
  31. Ruschmann P. Legalizing Marijuana. New York, USA: Infobase Publishing; 2009.
  32. Bronskill J. Legalizing marijuana: Health Canada flags 9 factors for Liberals to consider. The Canadian Press. March 5, 2016.
  33. Esposito G, De Filippis D, Cirillo C, et al. Cannabidiol in inflammatory bowel diseases: a brief overview. Phyther Res. 2013;27(5):633-636. Doi:10.1002/ptr.4781
  34. Moore TH, Zammit S, Lingford-Hughes A, et al. Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review. Lancet. 2007;370(9584):319-328. Doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(07)61162-3
  35. Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2012;109(40):E2657-E2664. Doi:10.1073/pnas.1206820109
  36. Volkow ND, Baler RD, Compton WM, Weiss SR. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N Engl J Med. 2014;370:2219-2227.
  37. World Health Organization (WHO). Management of substance abuse: Cannabis. http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/cannabis/en/. Accessed May 5, 2016. Published 2016.
  38. Imtiaz S, Shield KD, Roerecke M, et al. The burden of disease attributable to cannabis use in Canada in 2012. Addiction. 2016;111(4):653-662.
  39. Fischer B, Imtiaz S, Rudzinski K, Rehm J. Crude estimates of cannabis-attributable mortality and morbidity in Canada-implications for public health focused intervention priorities. J Public Health (Oxf). 2016; 38(1):183-188. Doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdv005
  40. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. USA: CDC; 2014.
  41. Rocky Mountains HIDTA. Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. http://www.rmhidta.org/html/august%202014%20legalization%20of%20mj%20in%20colorado%20the%20impact.pdf. Published 2015
  42. Monte AA, Zane RD, Heard KJ. The implications of marijuana legalization in colorado. JAMA. 2015;313(3):241-242. Doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17057.