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The legalization of cannabis was the biggest Canadian story in 2018

Pradip Rodrigues

Millions of Canadians coast to coast may have let out a collective groan on the midnight of Oct. 17,2018 when Canada legalized Cannabis. Needless to say, this is one issue that reveals the stark generational and cultural divide. The left and Liberal-leaning New York Times dubbed Canada’s “national experiment.” Well, if this is a dubious “national experiment,” I’d say the guinea pigs are Canadians who are either mentally or physically troubled. While there is no denying cannabis can be beneficial to those in chronic pain and other medical conditions, the vast majority of those who will use it recreationally will be young Canadians looking to anesthetise all or part of their troubled minds.

The so-called progressive millennials who dominate the social media scene hail the legalization of cannabis as nothing less than one giant step for mankind, or as our PM Justin Trudeau would say, ‘peoplekind.’

Meanwhile a large segment of new Canadians, especially South Asians are vehemently opposed to the idea of legalizing the weed. This sentiment is evident in cities like Brampton and Mississauga where new Canadians live in large and growing numbers where there is plenty of resistance to the idea of cannabis retail stores.

New Canadian parents are struggling to prevent their children from making bad choices like vaping, getting addicted to social media and gaming. Many are lecturing them about the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction and it doesn’t help when consuming edible cannabis products and smoking weed is perfectly legal. In millennial circles, cannabis use is a cool and trendy way to get high.

But while the left-leaning millennials might see Canada’s trailblazing move to legalize cannabis for recreational use as being progressive, there is no denying that the decision has prompted large multinational corporations to invest billions of dollars in an industry that seems more promising than oil. Forget about our moribund oil industry that is seeing falling investment, investors are now betting their money on cannabis. This is why at the end of 2018; the legalization of cannabis was voted The Canadian Press Business News Story of the Year.

In the years to come, instead of pipelines carrying oil into the US and beyond, we will have networks of pipelines supplying cannabis to those beyond our borders. It will be our major export!
The legalization of cannabis will fundamentally change our society in more ways than most people can imagine. It is not just a matter of voting down cannabis retail stores from being set up in the neighborhood or city, the impact has more far-reaching consequences when it comes to policing, health care, justice, politics and culture.

For now, there are strict rules around advertising cannabis and it is touted as more for medicinal purpose than recreational. But in time these marketers could find ways around it and the humble weed could be advertised like alcohol and tobacco products.

“Big Marijuana” could market and sell cannabis aggressively to heavy pot users, thus exacerbating their drug problem. This is similar to what happens in the alcohol and tobacco industries, where companies make much of their profits from users with serious addiction issues.

And while our government justifies the legalization of cannabis with the argument that it would eventually drive out criminals and drug peddlers, as well as also bring in much-needed sales tax revenue, the costs associated with treatment, injuries, loss of work, and damage to property are likely to run millions more than the income gained through taxation. And let’s not get started with the number of road fatalities that could in time be directly attributed to legally acquired cannabis.

Most South Asian parents would rather the government set up a network of subsidized Kumon classes rather than approve cannabis stores.

The kind of resources and effort being put into bringing to fruition legalized cannabis in Canada could well have been put toward something that could enhance the health and future of Canadians. Unfortunately, cannabis legal or otherwise sadly ends up in the hands of susceptible people hoping to escape reality rather than dealing with it with a sober and clear head. -CINEWS

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