In Brief
  • Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use across the country.
  • Possession of up to 30 grams will no longer be considered a crime.

Fulfilling His Promise

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau introduced legislation to legalize the use of marijuana in the country, for both medical and recreational purposes. This move would fulfil one of his key campaign promises. And, should the bill pass as expected, Canada will be the only country thus far to follow Uruguay’s lead, which legalized pot for recreational use in 2014.

Upon the bill’s passing, possession of the drug in small quantities will no longer be a crime. The law will only set up broad guidelines for its sale and purchase but will leave most of that decision-making up to the individual provinces. The minimum age of use will be 18 and the quantity able to be purchased will be limited to 30 grams (about an ounce).

In 1999, the country first legalized the use of marijuana for a strict set of medical uses. Those legal structures were later loosened by the courts, but recreational usage still remained out of reach.

Photo credit: Alex Guibord/Flickr
Photo credit: Alex Guibord/Flickr

Medicinal Marijuana

Even with the widespread use of medicinal marijuana, there still exists a lively debate on its effectiveness. In one mega-study that analyzed more than 10,000 individual studies on the effects of medical marijuana, it was found that, even with all of that research, conclusive evidence is elusive. There are plenty of anecdotal cases of cannabinoids easing the lives of people suffering from illness, but much more research will have to be completed before definitive answers can be given.

The problem with this is that the drug’s legal status, especially in the United States, severely restricts the amount and type of research that can be conducted. Without broader legalization, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to perform the research necessary to confirm its medical legitimacy for certain issues.

Of the research that has been completed thus far, there is evidence that marijuana can assist with pain reduction, muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and even with nausea (currently used to treat chemotherapy patients).

Canada becoming the largest nation in the world to legalize marijuana could have an effect on how other countries’ treat the drug. Perhaps this move will help to spark some goodwill toward furthering research in the hopes of unlocking all of the medicinal properties of marijuana.