Cannabis in Canada: an instructive experiment?

Canada has become the first industrialised country in the world to completely legalise cannabis. The new law means that marijuana and hashish can be consumed for recreational as well as medicinal purposes. Some see the step as an important experiment, others see it as an admission that policies aimed at controlling drug consumption have failed.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Prohibition bad for society

The taz hopes the decision in Canada will advance the debate over the legalisation of cannabis:

“Now it's up to countries like Canada and Uruguay, as well as the US states that have already taken the step, to systematically assess their experiences, make the appropriate adjustments, and share their knowledge with the world. They can furnish us with empirical evidence that the fears which conservative prohibitionists operate with are absurd. Society - also here in Germany - is further ahead than the politicians. Years of public pressure have prompted the Left Party, the Greens, the FDP and parts of the SPD to rethink their positions. Now is not the time to stop. The social costs of prohibition are simply too high.”

The Independent (GB) /

The right balance is the solution

Canada now has the chance to find a balance between free and controlled use that can serve as a model for the rest of the world, says The Independent:

“As with other troublesome substances it needs to be controlled, but with some skill and judgment. Waging war on it plainly drives the trade underground, links it to crime and makes the product adulterated and unreliable in use. Complete liberalisation would make the damage it can bring more widespread and severe.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

Failed drug policy

Despite the liberalisation citizens should stay away from cannabis, Savon Sanomat advises:

“The change in Canada's drug policy is so enormous that it will inevitably have short-term consequences. It allows and encourages people to try cannabis even though this is not recommended. Cannabis weakens energy production in cells, which can have a negative impact on memory, the brain, the heart and the muscles. ... This decision is an admission by Canada that it has failed in the prevention of drug consumption. Cannabis consumption is widespread across the country even though it was illegal. ... One should consider whether there is anyone who can assume responsibility for the consequences that the side-effects of cannabis consumption can have for individuals and society.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Keep calm

Svenska Dagbladet takes a relaxed view of developments in Canada and compares them with Sweden's alcohol policy:

“Roughly one in ten people between 16 and 29 say that they've smoked cannabis in the past year (Canadian cannabis survey 2017). Whereas young people consume little alcohol, cannabis consumption is on the rise. We may well wish that weren't the case. ... But young people travel and adopt the habits of other cultures. ... No matter what you think of cannabis, an important argument for change is that today's system has losers. No one wants the country to be covered in a cloud of hashish smoke. But we must remain calm. You can think in new ways without tossing the old rules overboard. In Quebec and other provinces on Canada's east coast, marijuana can only be sold in state-run shops, just like alcohol in Sweden.”