• Randy Shaffer

Canada Goes Cannabis! Marijuana Is Legal Starting Wednesday


As the United States scrambles to find any shred of leadership it has left, our neighbors up north are carving a unique path on the road to cannabis reform. Beginning on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, marijuana will officially become fully legal throughout Canada. Yes, you read that right. Marijuana will be available throughout the country, for both recreational and medicinal purposes.


So whether you partake in marijuana because of an ailment you are suffering from, or whether you just like to relax with a movie and smoke some cannabis, much like alcohol users sip on wine after a hard day -- no matter who you are, you will be able to enjoy marijuana, a plant that grows in the ground. Seems so sensible, doesn't it? Well, this sensible solution is now the way of the land for our friendly Canadian neighbors!


Canada, eh?

For those unaware, a few months back Canadian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly, 52-29, to pass a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use. This effectively made Canada only the third country in the world to do so, and the first of the big G7 and G20 nations to allow recreational marijuana use. Previously, Uruguay and Georgia were the first nations to fully legalize marijuana. Canada is the largest country to legalize cannabis, leaving other "progressive" nations like the United States in the dust.


So what will full legalization look like for a country so big? Honestly, it's unclear. And many Canadian lawmakers are bracing for all the legal hurdles that are likely to present themselves as the bustling marijuana industry plants its roots. How will cannabis change labor laws? Will cannabis hurt sports teams? What is the policy on police enforcement? Will cannabis convictions be overturned? Each one of these questions could spark a month-long debate, and it's likely that many of these debates will be held throughout the next year or two.


But Canadian parks have already approved the use on cannabis at campsites, and many companies and investors are eyeing the ever-growing cannabis stock market, which could end up being just another trendy stock or it could be a truly major financial investment, one that transcends the trendiness and becomes evergreen to investors. This impact can already be seen with companies like Coors and Molson, who are considering cannabis-infused beverages. Coca-Cola is also considering a beverage.


Many shops, cultivators and dispensaries are preparing for the onslaught of initial buyers, some of which may be new to cannabis. In states throughout the U.S. that have made marijuana legal, there has been an initial uptick in users, which eventually wears off once the luster of newly legalized weed begins to fade. Still, it is unclear if marijuana will make a significant impact on Canada as a whole.


Canadian medical marijuana users will likely see a drop in prices for medical cannabis over the next few years. This has been the case in the United States when recreational cannabis has gone legal in states with established mmj programs. And with the whole country of Canada legalizing marijuana, insurance may be able to cover some of the expenses. Veterans will also likely see better coverage as a result. If nothing else, easy access to cannabis is all but ensured throughout the country now, unless certain areas decide to ban the sales of marijuana -- another debate lawmakers will have to hash out.


Even better, legalization will lead to more advancements in science and cannabis innovation. With the shackles of prohibition lifted, scientists will be flocking to Canada like migrating birds to perform experiments. For Canadian mmj patients, this could mean serious changes and advancements in medical marijuana, possibly even leading to strains designed to target specific ailments.


Will Canada's Legalization of Marijuana Help or Hurt Ohio?

Ohioans are in a unique position because we border a popular Canadian tourist destination: Ontario. As a result, we may see an increase of traffic to and from Canada as Americans travel over the border to partake in Canada's now legal herb (and to smoke some Cuban cigars, which are also legal there). But will this measure hurt or help the Buckeye State, particularity Ohio's medical marijuana users?


Canada's legalization is not likely to impact Ohioans in any significant way, at least not ostensibly. It's important to note that is is very likely many medical marijuana Ohio patients, including patients from Ohio Marijuana Card, will be quick to hop across the border in order to enjoy marijuana, which is totally legal and within their realm to do so. After all, many Ohioans live right on the border, so hopping over takes mere minutes.


However, it is deeply important to note that any drugs brought from Canada to the United States would constitute committing a federal crime that would be punishable with a lengthy prison sentence. Ohio Marijuana Card recommends that our mmj patients exhibit caution when enjoying Canada's legal cannabis. Your medical marijuana recommendation will grant you an affirmative defense throughout Ohio, but it does not protect you from crossing the border with drugs.


Thankfully, it's very possible that Canadian legalization will spell an end to marijuana prohibition throughout Ohio. Though medical marijuana is legal in the state, recreational is not. A 2015 ballot measure, sponsored by ResponsibleOhio, sought to legalize cannabis in Ohio. The bill ultimately failed because of issues with monopolies woven into the bill that did not sit well with many cannabis enthusiasts. But Ohioans remain passionate and eager to join to the marijuana train, and many (including the author of this blog) are predicting full legalization throughout the state by as early as 2019 or 2020.


A Great Migration?

A bigger question to consider is whether marijuana legalization in Canada will mark a new era for progressive politics, one that could even inspire a new migration, with citizens flocking to Canada like progressives cling to cities like Portland, Austin or New York City throughout the United States.


Such a migration is certainly possible with Americans, as divisive politics have created a climate of tribal philosophy. This could inspire a migration of more liberal, progressive or science-minded individuals hoping to escape the onslaught of Trumpism. That being said, the Trump administration is allegedly considering changes to the federal laws regarding marijuana, with Republican senator Dana Rohrabacher even going as far to promise cannabis reform ... after the midterms, that is. But words are given strength by action, so we'll see if those words have even a modicum of strength down the road.


If American politics continue to favor authoritarianism or fascism, or simply continue to progress the nasty tribal bickering, it's possible that many Americans will seek refuge elsewhere. And with Canada already accepting our applications, cannabis reform could lead to a major migration. But, to be frank, it's costly to move across states, let alone across countries, so unless things take a really dark turn, a migration uptick will probably be minimal.


Will the United States Be Next for Marijuana Reform?

With Canada now laughing at the face of American politics, it's possible we will see pressure to reform marijuana laws throughout the "free world." But a lot of this will be determined by how well Canadians handle their newly minted law.


On one side, if the law results in chaos, expect American politicians on both sides of the aisle to become even more weary of marijuana reform. We could even see the chaos explode into a fever pitch of anti-pot rhetoric. Admittedly, this isn't likely to happen if what we've seen in states where marijuana is already legal comes to pass throughout Canada. However, states are a much different affair than an entire country. Marijuana advocates should keep their fingers crossed that all goes well.


Speaking of which, if cannabis legalization goes well throughout Canada, it's likely we will see every bordering state legalize marijuana in the next 3-5 years. If nothing else, this will be done to taper marijuana importing. And if the new measure yields high profits (as is has done everywhere weed is legal) we could see a stronger, more unified political push to legalize marijuana.


In the meantime, Ohio is lucky to be among the 31 states that have medical marijuana laws in their books. Dispensaries are gearing up to open in December in Ohio, so mmj patients won't have to wait too much longer to gain relief. In the meantime, if you've got a passport handy, you can stroll over to Canada for a weekend trip and see what they have to offer.


If you are not already a medical marijuana Ohio patient, give Ohio Marijuana Card's offices a call at 1-866-457-5559, or click here to learn more about how medical marijuana can help bring relief.

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