Recreational marijuana legalization in Canada or Colorado?

Having products so conveniently available makes it less likely that a person would be willing to physically go to a dispensary to get marijuana

Legal at federal level made people confidently buy and use cannabis nationwide

Canada's blueprint is better for the Northern Territory

In October 2018, Canada became the first major world economy to legalise recreational cannabis, positioning itself as a world leader in the industry.

Title of the graph: Forecasted number of legal recreational users in Canada by 2021

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Canada is not the first country to fully legalise marijuana. Uruguay legalised cannabis nationwide in 2014, and before that in 2012 Colorado ended the prohibition of recreational marijuana. However, in comparison with Uruguay and Colorado, Canada has placed itself as a much bigger player. Many other countries, states, and territories are watching Canada closely encouraged by its size, policies and global standing for marijuana legalisation.

The Northern Territory is currently planning to legalise recreational marijuana. There is now debate surrounding whether to follow the Canadian model or to go Colorado’s way.

Here are some of the reasons why the NT should choose the Canadian model rather than that of Colorado.



Buyers can Buy Cannabis Online

In today’s world where practically anything can be purchased at any time with a single click online. Having products so conveniently available makes it less likely that a person would be willing to physically go to a dispensary to get marijuana. The Canadian industry understands that convenience will increase purchases, and has made purchases available online. Buyers simply need to show their proof of age at the time of delivery.

The cannabis market in other countries may think of shifting online in the future, but Canada is already one step ahead.



Favourable Age Criteria

Though age criteria vary from one province to another, you only have to be 19 or 20-year-old to buy legal weed in Canada. In Colorado, the legal age is 21.

On average, people start smoking pot at age 16 and only making cannabis available to the older age group like the Colorado model may force them to indulge in illicit cannabis purchases and other associated criminal activities.



A Supportive Government

While you’re safe buying cannabis from dispensaries in Colorado, you are still technically violating federal law. Similarly, many states in the U.S.A have legalised recreational marijuana, but it is still illegal at the federal level. In Canada, you can confidently buy and use cannabis nationwide because it has been made legal at the federal level.

Title of the graph: Support for recreational weed legalisation in Canada

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Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country's justice minister, said that cannabis legalisation for recreational purposes was a historic milestone for the country. Similarly, almost all major parties and government entities are advocating the legalisation of marijuana.



Easier to Smoke

In most provinces in Canada, you can smoke weed in all places where you can smoke cigarettes. However in Colorado, there are specific marijuana-smoking areas. Moreover, smoking marijuana in federal lands, such as national parks, is allowed in Canada but illegal in Colorado. Also, moving to another state or country with cannabis that you buy in Colorado can get you into legal troubles like imprisonment and court conviction. In comparison, you can move around the country with cannabis that you buy in any province in Canada.



Reduced Tax Burden

When buying recreational cannabis in Colorado, there is a 2.9% state sales tax, plus a local sales taxes which is usually around 15%, and an additional 15% state marijuana sales tax. Taxes are often pushed on consumers, burdening them with nearly a 30% tax on marijuana. On the other hand, experts believe that the tax burden associated with cannabis in Canada is going to be less than that in Colorado.



High-Quality Marijuana Available at Cheaper Price

Cannabis is 30% cheaper in Canada than in Colorado and many other American states. For example, legal and high quality weed is 39% cheaper in Vancouver than in San Francisco.

Title of the graph: Price of marijuana in the US vs. Canada

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The reason cannabis is cheaper in Canada is its long history of weed legalisation, leading to a larger supply of weed growers and sellers. On the other hand, cannabis companies in the U.S.A can’t even have bank accounts, whereas Canada has publicly trading marijuana firms on the stock market.

Canada meets the needs and expectations of Canadians who responsibly use cannabis. The legalisation of cannabis is meant to put users at ease, and countries should strive to balance cannabis use and the regulations surrounding cannabis. The Canadian model has so far been impressive. People can legally, safely, and easily buy cannabis at an affordable price. Given the flexible rules around smoking marijuana and the supportive government, the black market in Canada may soon vanish. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, pledged the change in his 2015 election campaign, believing that legalisation would take “profits out of the hands of criminals” and safeguard children. 

Comparatively, the scenario is very complex and obscure in Colorado. Strict regulations and conflict between state and federal law make things even more difficult for cannabis users.

Undoubtedly, the NT should follow Canadian weed legalisation model when deciding how to proceed. Either way, the NT’s decision to review the laws surrounding marijuana is a positive move for Australians.