Let’s Talk to the Naysayers
The time to debate whether or not cannabis should be legalized has passed. The federal government will pass legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis next year. Period.
And, although countless surveys have shown that the majority of Canadians support legalization, we can’t ignore the fact that there are many people who are opposed to the move. We shouldn’t ignore the naysayers, instead, we should engage, listen and have informed discussions about their concerns. In some cases, this may lead to the development of safer, stronger laws and policies. In other cases, it may provide clarification to those who are opposed about the rationale for legalization and the benefits that will follow.
Legalization means regulating and restricting access to cannabis. It means implementing laws to keep the products out of the hands of our youth and the profits out of the hands of criminal organizations. The fact is, prohibition has not deterred young people from using cannabis and it has lead to a lucrative black market.
By legalizing cannabis, the country can implement and enforce laws that protect our youth, prohibit impaired driving, and protect employers and employees. Some argue that cannabis is a gateway drug, and ignoring this concern will not help change this opinion. It’s only through engagement and education that we can begin to change mindsets and move past this misperception.
Legalization will also support, legitimize and advance the important research taking place into the many medical uses of cannabis. And, patients will have access to new and better products to treat their medical conditions. There is a staggering number of studies and anecdotal evidence supporting cannabis treatment for anxiety, stress, opioid addiction and the painful effects of cancer treatments, to name a few.
And, let’s be honest, there is a financial benefit to removing the illegal market and competitively taxing cannabis products. Legalization will add billions of dollars to the economy that will be used to pay for the government services we all rely on. In 2016, the State of Colorado generated nearly $200 million in tax revenue, thanks to $1.3 billion in cannabis revenue. Whether you agree with taxing cannabis or not, you will reap the benefits of this revenue.
So, let’s stop debating whether legalization should happen, and start having informed discussions with the naysayers about what our lawmakers should do to ensure the safe transition to legal cannabis. Engagement, collaboration and communication with people representing all sides of the debate will benefit us all.