Canada can teach NZ 3 Critical Things When It Comes to Legalising Recreational Cannabis

Smoking recreational cannabis.

Woman smoking cannabis in Canada.

The Possible Parallels between both Country's Legalisation Prospects

Canada has become the second country to legalise recreational marijuana. This ground-breaking legislation and the after-effects are now being observed by countries around the world who are considering a similar move. New Zealand has a fairly comparable culture and is on a similar path towards legalisation, so as a country they stand to learn a great deal from Canada’s move.

As the first G7 country to legalise recreational marijuana, Canada is poised to show the world how it's done
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Canada has become the second country to legalise recreational marijuana. This ground-breaking legislation and the after-effects are now being observed by countries around the world who are considering a similar move. New Zealand has a fairly comparable culture and is on a similar path towards legalisation, so as a country they stand to learn a great deal from Canada’s move.

One of the strongest points raised by critics of legalisation is that the evidence gathered so far isn’t sufficient to build an effective legalisation framework. The new reform will allow evidence on various practices to be gathered. The legalisation of cannabis could create a $5 billion industry but for now, that money is going into the pockets of illegal growers and sellers. If New Zealand does make the move to legalise cannabis, a massive percentage of that money will go to boost the New Zealand economy.

Another possible parallel between legalisation in Canada and New Zealand is the export potential. As a country with a bustling ports industry, New Zealand could easily establish itself as a supplier of cannabis products for countries where medical cannabis is legal but their local growth facility is severely underdeveloped. More than half the revenue which the Canadian industry is expected to generate should come from sales to countries that have embraced cannabis to some degree. Today, there are around 30 such countries. With their prior experience, Canada is well placed to show New Zealand policymakers what works and what is less effective on the path to legalisation.



3 Critical Things New Zealand Can Learn from Various Aspects of the Canadian 
Legalisation Policies


Even after rolling out legalisation, the Canadian government still admits it's still learning about legalisation frameworks
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Canada’s newly reformed legislation legalises certain aspects of cannabis use and sale, but criminalises others. Each of the country’s 10 provinces and 3 territories are allowed to finetune their drug use policies as they deem fit. These jurisdictions will mostly focus on determining where cannabis can be bought and consumed. But on the Federal level, only a handful of laws have been enacted. Some of those laws include those that limit possession – adults are permitted to carry as much as 30 grams, and households are allowed to keep as many as four plants. Travel restrictions are also in place - it’s illegal to leave or enter the country with marijuana in your possession, even if you're traveling to or from a country where recreational use is legal. Federal laws also stipulate the repercussions for driving under the influence of cannabis. For areas not included in federal legislation, the provinces need to create their own laws and guidelines, such as:


Distribution channels:

Cannabis can be sold in either government stores, private stores, or both, depending on provincial regulations. For instance British Columbia, with a population of over 4.6 million, will have just one distribution outlet. But online purchases will be generally allowed, so users can order their products online to be delivered to them. However, the drug will not be sold at bars or restaurants, or in the same locations where alcohol and tobacco are sold. Only purchases from licensed outlets will be legal, and trading cannabis outside these designated points could attract a fine or jail time.


Age of use:

The new reform still outlaws the sale of cannabis to minors, though the age limit varies across different jurisdictions. The federal minimum age stands at currently stands at 18, while some provinces like Quebec adopted a minimum age of 21.


Designated smoking areas:

Provinces like Ontario and Alberta allow users to smoke cannabis in any place where smoking tobacco is permitted. In places like Halifax, there are locations specially designated for smoking marijuana. Some of the responsibility to determine appropriate places to smoke cannabis is placed on building owners and employers.



Should New Zealand Launch With the Lessons Learned from Legalisation in Canada?

The Canadian government has used a carefully considered approach to introducing legal marijuana. They are still refining and updating their legislation as the country becomes more familiar with unexpected pitfalls relating to cannabis sales and use.  However, as a whole, legalisation is proving safe and beneficial to the country, without the negative consequences that some opponents predicted. As a country that is following a similar path but is a few years behind, New Zealand has a live example to consider as they decide on a path to take and create legislation.