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How Canada’s Legalization Can Predict How The U.S. Would Regulate Legal Marijuana

By Roger Malespin November 2, 2018 photo/istock/The-Vagabond

 On October 17th, Canada will be the first industrialized nation to fully legalize marijuana sales and use for its citizens. While the federal governments and state rights differ plenty between the two neighbors, there are enough similarities that Canada’s blueprint could be used in the U.S. to a degree. There are a lot of components to look at - what products are available, how the government will regulate it, and distribution across state lines- to name a few.

The main difference will probably be seen in the level of government involvement. Canada’s federal government wrote the outline but left a lot of room for the provinces to determine the details of their own laws. The U.S. would work similarly because state rights are a big deal here, but Canada’s government will regulate the producers. Over here, the state’s rights would undoubtedly take priority and it would probably be up to them to regulate producers in their own borders. That’s not to say that there won’t be federal standards to ensure safety, but the majority of regulation would be localized.

Federal government reach is limited in the U.S., so aspects that Canada has, such as allowing provinces to determine if private use can be done with children in the home, would be construed as a violation of personal freedom here. However, other aspects such as strict regulation on packaging and marketing are feasible. Similar to how tobacco companies cannot have characters like Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man any longer, the U.S. would probably use Canada’s marketing restrictions on marijuana largely the same way.
The marketing aspect leads to another key area - the products available. Uruguay, the other country to fully legalize, is very strict and allows only 2 types of marijuana. Canada takes a much more liberal approach, but the U.S. would have a wider range of products because of the general hands off approach our government has towards the free market. Already we have a grey market with a very wide range of products - vape pens, edibles, skin care products and much more - and the variety will likely grow once legalization happens. Certain companies will be federally regulated, especially in the realm of medical marijuana, but largely it will be a free market enterprise with more room for ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

The murkiest part might be how it is transported. The Post Office is federally regulated in the U.S., so there will be a good deal of red tape to work out between the feds and the states who opt to be more restrictive with their rules. Theoretically, federally regulated medical marijuana would be safe, but the same can’t be said of product that is legal to grow and transport in one state but not another.

There is a lot more to this issue, but we can generally assess Canada’s blueprint as similar to what the U.S. may have with the key difference being the reach of the federal government. Canada’s framework is fair and just, and will probably be adopted in large part by other western nations in the coming years. We still have a ways to go before that is realized here in the U.S., but things will certainly be accelerated should the democrats take control of the government in 2018 and/or 2020.