Earlier this week, the Canadian Senate voted to legalize recreational marijuana, overturning 95 years of prohibition. The groundbreaking vote has made Canada the second nation in the world (behind Uruguay) to legalize.
The law aims to keep pot out of the hands of minors while reigning in a thriving black market. Illegal dispensaries abound in Canada. Many have flown under the radar for years. And licensed producers of medical marijuana frequently sell their excess product online for recreational use, according to one source.
By legalizing, Canada stands to capture significant tax revenue from the estimated $7 billion-dollar cannabis industry. Some provinces will even establish publicly owned dispensaries. In Ontario, for example, 150 retail stores are slated to be run by the Liquor Control Board. Consumers can also order marijuana products by mail.
A far-reaching impact
While the law won’t go into effect until October, it’s already casting ripples – if not tidal waves – around the world.
The economic impact alone is far-ranging. In the U.S., where recreational marijuana is legal in only nine states (plus D.C.), cannabis is a billion-dollar industry. Yet federal criminalization makes it challenging – if not impossible – for legitimate marijuana businesses to get financing. No FDIC-insured bank will open itself up to federal prosecution by lending to a cannabis business. Now, however, those businesses can flock across the border, where they’ll find a vast array of financing opportunities.
Legalizing marijuana will almost certainly boost the Canadian economy by leaps and bounds. A thriving cannabis industry will also mean a booming “marijuana tourism” industry, attracting eager consumers from around the globe.
Will other nations soon follow? Will our nation?
But one big question remains: Will Canada’s landmark legislation pave the way for other first-world nations to start legalizing? Will it mean that laws criminalizing marijuana start to topple?
According to at least one poll, nearly 70 percent of U.S. voters support legalizing recreational marijuana. In light of Canada’s groundbreaking stance, that number may well increase.
One thing’s for sure: Times are a-changin’, and for North Carolina as well as the rest of the world, it’s only a matter of time.