October 17, 2018 entered the history of cannabis. This is the date on which the legalization of cannabis in Canada entered into force. Since then, it is possible to use cannabis without fear of being worried by the law, including for recreational use. More than a year after its authorization, what happened to marijuana use in Canada and what were the effects on the black market ? Weedy analyzes the first results.
Why legalize cannabis in Canada? Historical context
Canada may be theone of the first countries to legalize cannabis, it is however not the only one. Uruguay and some American states were the first to think about it. Why then does Canadian decriminalization make so much noise? Probably because it is the first G20 country to take the plunge. A example that touches us most closely in Europe, and perhaps even more so in France, Belgium or Luxembourg where we share a culture, even a common language.
However, the decision was not made on a whim. In Canada, cannabis was banned at the federal level since 1923. A first notable decriminalization campaign nevertheless took place in 2003, through the efforts of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (Bill C-38).
Consumption and cultivation were therefore already possible for any citizen holding a prescription recommending that cannabis be obtained from a Canadian doctor. By giving power to another Liberal, Justin Trudeau, in 2015, the canadians allowed the one who had made the legalization of cannabis in Canada a campaign promise to follow through on his ideas. The debate has indeed played a pivotal role in the electoral campaign Justin Trudeau's Federal Council. His code of conduct ? Eliminate profits from organized traffic.
How is the sale of legal cannabis organized in Canada?
Canada is a federal state. So there are disparities between different provinces. In Quebec for example, it is the SQDC (Société québécoise du cannabis), a subsidiary of the Société des alcools du Québec, which manages the sale. Although a Crown corporation, it acts like any private reseller, notably allowing consumers to order online in complete confidentiality.
On the producer side, the market is booming. Cannopy Growth, the world number one in the cultivation of cannabis, for example, set up in Tweed (Ontario) where their production multiplied by more than 10 in the first half after the legalization of cannabis in Canada. They develop it all kinds of products, both recreational and medical : capsules, oils and pre-rolled joints in particular.
Legal shops Vs. Black market, a choice not always obvious
Where the rub is that the black market still constitutes the bulk of sales. The figures vary widely by age group, but there is a clear trend: the younger the consumer, the greater the likelihood of going through the black market. According to Statistics Canada, this figure was therefore around 60% among 15/24 year olds a year after legalization, in the third quarter of 2019. According to the SQDC, these figures would reach 80% in Quebec.
There are several reasons for these figures. Globally, marijuana users recognize advantages to official stores. The sellers are familiar with the products, which are also quality and widely controlled. However, these shops are too often in sold out and practice higher prices than at unauthorized dealers. Also according to Statistics Canada, the average price per gram on the legal market is thus 10,23 Canadian dollars, against 5,59 CAD on the black market. A difference in price which is explained in particular by a strict and costly food safety process.
The state depends on its suppliers to produce more and supply does not yet meet demand. Toronto (Ontario), Canada's first city by size, for example, had to wait 6 months after legalization to see its first two stores dedicated to the sale of legal cannabis open.
Profits from legalizing cannabis in Canada
The government is, in people's minds, the first beneficiary of the legalization of cannabis in Canada. However, these are certainly the marketplaces which derive the main profits. The cannabis sector represented $ 500 million in investments in 2018. 5 to 10 billion dollars are expected by 2025.
Joints, the historical mode of consumption of marijuana, are far from being the only target of industrialists. A whole new range of derivative products thus appear on the market, now usual cosmetics to drinks, through the very carrier food industry. Cannabis is thus found more and more on our plates, our chocolate bars or our ice creams. These new generation products are already all the rage in the United States and are sure to spread gradually in Canada as well as in all the countries loosening their laws.
Effects of decriminalization on crime and security
Cannabis use may be legal in Canada, but the cannabis sector continues to be strictly framed by law. Canadian government thus relies on a strict legal framework, detailing in particular the differences between provinces and territories, as well as the legislative provisions relating to driving.
special police units have been trained in driver screening. Right now, no significant increase in cannabis crimes has however been noted. Legalization would only have attracted 4% of new consumers.
On the legal side, prison terms can now go up to 14 years for traffickers, compared to 3 years before decriminalization. Consequently, the risks for certain dealers are now too high to assume in relation to the profits. Theincreased penalties, associated with the fear of seeing their business collapse with the development of the legal market, therefore encourages them to turn to other products. Their health effects are much more dangerous, however. This is particularly the case with cocaine.
Only the future will allow us to draw conclusions on the effects of the legalization of cannabis in Canada. However, if crime and consumption have not increased significantly, the heavy sanctions now inflicted on traffickers could confirm a first perverse effect.