Canada legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2018, with the government vowing that it would address the criminal justice system inequalities that affected marginalized communities disproportionately, specifically indigenous people and Black Canadians.
While the heavily racialized arrests for cannabis possession have reduced significantly, the for-profit cannabis industry in the country is still struggling. This is mainly because while marijuana sales made in the shadow markets are still thriving.
However, legalization in the country has decreased the number of possession cases significantly. Take for instance, in 2018, the police booked 26,402 marijuana possession cases until the law came into effect in October 2018. According to Statistics Canada, the number went down to 46 cases in 2019. It should be noted, however, that possessing more than 30 grams of cannabis is still illegal in the country.
In August, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a report that demonstrated how marijuana arrests had been tied to race before its legalization. The organization had conducted an analysis of police data and discovered that, from 2013 through 2017, Black people faced 34% of the cannabis possession charges in the country, despite making up only 8.8% of Toronto’s population.
Furthermore, while decriminalizing cannabis possession may be seen as a forward movement toward developing a fairer justice system, those left with criminal records may not be of the same opinion.
The Canadian government had stated before legalization that it would expunge criminal records for possession, and while there’s no definite number for the total number of Canadians with possession records, the figure may be as high as 500,000. This is according to a Center for Addiction and Mental Health report that was released in 2014.
However, the complete expungement process, which is made up of six steps, may take a while; currently only 341 individuals have succeeded in having their records expunged by mid-November 2020.
Apart from this, a majority of cannabis producers in the country are still not making any profits. Instead, many are recording multimillion dollar losses. Many assume that this is because the government had not factored in the collection of tax revenue or the creation of new employment opportunities when finalizing plans for legalization.
With regard to what comes next after legalization, there’s still a lot to be done, from developing an effective procedure and helping with record expungement that doesn’t involve using a significant amount of funds to completely phasing out unlicensed sales of marijuana. Clearly Canada has a long way to go in establishing a working and effective marijuana industry.
Meanwhile, cannabis was legalized in Michigan a few years ago, and the sector is booming. For example, Gage Cannabis Co., a company that entered the market in 2019, already has a handful of provisioning centers open with more than ten additional retail outlets slated to open this year.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Gage Cannabis Co. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/GAGE
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