Let’s Get High: Will Marijuana Ever Be Legal In Canada?

Ask most teenagers, and 20-somethings these days and they will tell you that smoking weed is just as commonplace as drinking. Most people have at least tried it, and a lot of the time it isn’t the ominous gateway drug experience that police officers, teachers, and public service announcements make it out to be. Weed is considered similar to alcohol in that it can be enjoyed in moderation, rather than a hard drug that can ruin your life.

Several polls since 2003 have found the majority of Canadians agree with the statement “the use of marijuana should be decriminalized” but Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin were both unsuccessful in their attempts to pass bills to make that a reality. One of the main roadblocks was America’s DEA threatening to increase security at border crossing if the bill was passed.

The 2000 case R v. Parker was a landmark decision in relation to use of medical marijuana. The Court found that the prohibition of marijuana was unconstitutional because it did not contain any exception for medical use. Marijuana is seen as an effective drug in managing symptoms of illnesses like epilepsy, cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s, and many more. It is currently legal in Canada for individuals suffering from chronic illness to be in possession of marijuana, as long as they have a legitimate prescription.

Under Health Canada’s Marijuana for Medical Purpose Regulations (MMPR,) which came into effect on March 31, 2014, the decision to use marijuana for medical purposes is now between a doctor and a patient. Before the new regulations went into effect, patients had a choice between growing their own weed, buying it from a private grower, or purchasing it from Health Canada. But now, the only (legal) option is to purchase it from approved commercial growers. The change has increased the cost of marijuana significantly, making it difficult for some people to continue using it.

All of the current parties in Canada, expect for the Conservatives, are in favour of decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana in some form. Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal party, in particular, has been vocal about his view that Canada would benefit from the legalization of marijuana. With a federal election scheduled for October of this year, marijuana legislation could end up being a huge part of every party’s campaign strategy. 

We are probably a long way from the government seeing recreational weed use as nothing to worry about, but that doesn’t really stop thousands of people from smoking it occasionally, anyway. It isn’t hard to find if you want it. Just take a stroll through a park like Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto on a sunny day, and you’ll come across plenty of options. The ironic thing is it’s actually harder for people with a legitimate medical reason to get weed, than it is for someone who just wants to take the occasional bong hit, or whip up some special brownies.

Of course, sufferers of chronic illness need quality marijuana on a consistent basis, while your average stoner will probably still be able to function without it. Would it be nice if you could just go into the corner store and pick up a gram? Sure, but even if it does get legalized in the next decade, it is going to be a lot more complicated than just suddenly having pot available on the shelf at your local convenience store.

It may take awhile but the future seems to be headed towards the 100% legalization of marijuana. Just think, eventually weed-infused cooking will replace gluten-free as the new trending diet. You’ll be able to bring pot brownies to your next work function, and instead of that aunt that always drinks too much wine at family gatherings, she’ll be the stoner aunt with the sweet vaporizer. What could possibly be so bad about that?

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