As of today — October 17th, 2018 — marijuana is legal to grow, possess and consume in Canada, for all adults, for all reasons.

The air is thick, not with smoke, but with a resounding cry of finally. It’s not the joyous cheer the policy change might have received in previous decades — it’s more of an exhausted acknowledgment that the government finally recognizes what we’ve known all along, that pot offers more good than harm and it’s our right as human beings to use it.

Lingering frustrations from the years of prohibition aside, it would be indulgent to spin pot’s legalization into a negative. People are saying Canada will catalyze a global trend of legalization; a potential victory for all of humankind, finally realizing our duty to cultivate and study one of the planet’s most unique plants.

But much of the world, including our neighbour to the south, isn’t ready for cannabis legalization. In many ways, Canada isn’t ready either.

So it’s a good day. It’s a bad day. It’s a confusing day. Feel free to follow along as I attempt to parse out the nuances.

Good

Individuals with medical needs can finally access marijuana products without complicated legalese. Sufferers of seizures, chronic pain, anxiety, and many other conditions can purchase marijuana over-the-counter the same way they’d purchase Tylenol for a headache. Given the side-effects of common painkillers, this will hopefully become a common use-case.

Good

We can stop legitimizing pot by calling it “medical marijuana,” as if the word “medical” changes anything. Broccoli is also a plant with positive health effects but we don’t call it medical broccoli. Likewise, we don’t shame people who eat broccoli just because they like it.

Good

We can finally live free from the insane hypocrisy of a society which embraces alcohol and at least tolerates tobacco while demonizing cannabis. Canadians can purchase marijuana for the sole pleasure of getting high and nobody can tell us otherwise.

Good

Excluding residents of Manitoba, Quebec, and Nunavut, Canadians are free to possess four marijuana plants per household. Considering it’s a PLANT, and not a poisonous one, it’s relieving that we can finally grow and possess it in our homes.

Good

Marijuana offers the potential for positive lifestyle changes for those who are harmed by their use of other drugs. I’m speculating here but it’s not unreasonable that some people might prefer pot to alcohol as a social drug, to opioids as a sedative, to tobacco as their smoke of choice, etc. With pleasing euphoric qualities and minimal side effects, weed could function as a reverse-gateway drug for some individuals.

Good

Legal cannabis allows producers to study and create a proliferation of marijuana strains and derivatives. Consumers can choose from a vast catalogue of professionally produced marijuana products with wide-ranging effects and consumption methods. Psychoactive, non-psychoactive, smoke, vapour, liquid, edible — you name it, we’re just getting started.

Good

Hemp, a species of cannabis with industrial utility in clothing, textiles, construction, nutrition, cosmetic products, and many other use-cases, no longer suffers from cannabis prohibition. While hemp hasn’t been prohibited in the same way as marijuana, cannabis legalization and the recent boom in CBD popularity offer even greater potential for this proven cash crop.

Good

Canadians can fly domestically with up to 30 GRAMS of weed. I don’t know why you’d need to with marijuana available everywhere, but that’s awesome anyway.

Good

Cannabis products may be valuable not only for alleviating chemotherapy side effects but for treating cancer itself. More research is vital.

Good

Regulation of cannabis intoxication while driving. I’m of the opinion that it takes a LOT of weed to impair a person’s driving ability comparable to alcohol, but certainly there needs to be a limit.

Bad

We aren’t prepared to regulate cannabis intoxication while driving. THC, the active psychoactive component of marijuana, can stay in your system for up to 30 days after use. Unlike alcohol, where blood alcohol content correlates reliably with intoxication levels, it’s uncertain how to accurately gauge an individual’s intoxication from marijuana consumption, especially as it relates to their driving ability. Anecdotally, I don’t know how much weed it would take to prevent me from walking in a straight line — probably more than I could physically ingest in one sitting. Even the “caffeine jitters” from a few cups of coffee would impair my motor skills more than, say, a few grams of weed, which is a lot to consume at once (just don’t ask me to recite the alphabet backwards… can anybody actually do that?).

Again, I support the regulation of cannabis intoxication while driving, but I share the common fear that many will be punished unfairly for an offence that police aren’t prepared to deal with.

Bad

Marijuana replaces cryptocurrency as the market trend that everybody talks about but nobody really understands. Have you invested in weed yet? NO, NO I HAVEN’T (and damnit, I wish I had).

Bad

Cannabis grey market pioneers feel alienated by some of the regulations accompanying legalization. Since these are some of the nation’s foremost experts on the cultivation and industry of marijuana, it would be ideal for them to be comfortable and aligned with the legislature.

Bad

The US is enforcing psychotic border controls, asking Canadians if they’ve ever smoked pot before and threatening to ban them for life if the answer is yes.

Bad

Despite its general safety, cannabis poses a major hazard for individuals disposed to schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. When weed is legally available to late teens and young adults — the period of peak risk — a small percentage of this population are in danger of suffering life changing negative effects.

Bad

Even without a psychotic predisposition, abusing marijuana will cause you harm. Weed makes you lazy and lethargic, it compromises sleep quality, encourages overeating, and can trigger antisocial behaviour. Smoking, in general, is advised against by health professionals.

Bad

Marijuana has a distinct, pungent smell, especially when ignited. Some people hate this smell.

Confusing

Is it cannabis or marijuana? What’s the difference? This article explains.

Confusing

Which mechanisms are behind cannabis’s medical properties and what form of cannabis should you consume for your own needs? And what the heck is the endocannabinoid system? Answers to these questions are available online but the traditional narrative which either glorifies or demonizes marijuana has impeded public knowledge about cannabis and its effects. A common example is CBD fervour in which consumers hail CBD as a cure all, ignoring the importance of synergy between all components of the cannabis plant.

Confusing

How do we establish an agreed upon limit for cannabis intoxication while driving, that is equal to the limit for alcohol intoxication, which can be accurately proven by roadside officers? How many pot users will be unduly punished before we figure this out?

Confusing

How do we protect young adults with psychotic predispositions from marijuana induced psychosis? Also considering the alarming correlation between psychotropic drug use and mass shooters, do we open the discussion about standardized mental health testing for adolescents? Could we ever use psychiatric indicators to prevent an individual from legally purchasing marijuana or psychotropic prescription drugs?

Your turn

Where are you from and what are your thoughts on cannabis legalization?

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