Currents News Staff
Today Canada became the first major world economy to legalize possession and use of recreational marijuana – it’s been illegal there for the last ninety-five years. The United States’ northern neighbor is now the second country, after Uruguay, to legalize and regulate marijuana.
Some people think the drug’s legalization could turn into some serious ‘green’ for retailers. “The way Starbucks is sort of dominating the coffee business throughout North America, the retailers want to do the same kind of thing in the cannabis space,” said Kyle Murray, a student in the School of Business at the University of Alberta.
Canada is also the first G-7 nation to make this move. Officials there, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, say legal marijuana will reduce related crimes and keep profits away from crime organizations.
Canadian store owners are ready and hoping for sky-high sales. “We’re going to have to keep opening stores. So as soon as we finish the first batch, we’re going to move onto the second and the third and the fourth,” said Trevor Fencott, CEO, Fire and Flower.
However, there are concerns in Canada over the legalization, like how ready police are to deal with an increase in impaired drivers.
While the United States hasn’t legalized marijuana as a country, many states have – with Colorado being the first in 2012. Eight additional states, and the District of Columbia allow recreational pot use. Thirty states permit medical marijuana, and the U.S. marijuana industry brought in nine-billion dollars in sales last year, according to BDS analytics.
And research points to some interesting findings. In Colorado a 2014 study by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area reported that there was a 92% increase in marijuana related traffic accidents.
In Washington, where marijuana was also decriminalized in 2012, a study by the PEW Charitable Trusts showed a double in fatal crashes of drivers who recently smoked.
But even with those numbers, retailers don’t seem too discouraged. “I think that we have enough information now, certainly from other jurisdictions that have legalized, like Colorado or Washington where the demographics are fairly similar – that we have some confidence that this is going to translate,” said Fencott.
Brooklyn Bishop Nicolas DiMarzio has addressed the issue at length in one of his columns, ‘Put Out Into The Deep.’ DiMarzio saying in part, “Notwithstanding the argument being made that the current enforcement of laws regarding the use of marijuana abuse falls disproportionally on minority users, I must say, that this is another issue that has to do with equal enforcement of laws, regardless of neighborhoods or racial and ethnic characteristics. I speak directly to the ill effects of marijuana, especially on our youth.”
You can read Bishop DiMarzio’s full column on this issue by clicking here.