What america can be taught from Canada’s hashish readability

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THE CONVERSATION

This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent, nonprofit source of news, analysis, and commentary from academic experts. Information on disclosure can be found on the original website.

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Authors: Michael J. Armstrong, Associate Professor of Operations Research at the Goodman School of Business at Brock University; and Paul Seaborn, Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Daniels College of Business, University of Virginia

The inherent contradictions in American cannabis laws seem to hit the news almost every week.

At the state level, for example, Virginia became the youngest jurisdiction for adult cannabis use on July 1. Just days later, a court upheld US federal tax laws treating state-licensed cannabis companies as illegal drug traffickers.

To resolve conflicts like this, Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, will enact laws to “decriminalize” cannabis at the federal level.

When drafting his bill, he should take inspiration from Canada. Congress may be too divided this year to be fully legalized, but it can begin to create the clarity Canada’s approach provides.

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US contradictions

Action by Congress is clearly needed because federal law has lagged behind state efforts in three ways.

First, state-level legalization means that each state’s laws are different.

As a result, government-licensed companies face operational inefficiencies and fragmented markets. And medical users authorized by one state can be arrested in another.

Second, cannabis remains illegal nationwide, even if states legalize it. This means that state-licensed cannabis companies are struggling to get bank accounts and funding, forcing them to operate mostly in cash. That makes them major raid targets.

Meanwhile, consumers cannot legally move government-approved cannabis across state lines, although many do.

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The illegality of the federal government also hinders research. The Senate drug use and several federal agencies have made it clear they want more cannabis studies. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) only allows one university to grow cannabis for research purposes. It has blocked federal approval of new growers and blocked research into state-licensed cannabis.

Third, the US government is inconsistent when it comes to enforcement.

For example, Congress prohibits federal agencies from cracking down on states’ medical cannabis systems. This ban must be renewed annually in order to remain in force.

Similarly, the administration of former President Barack Obama decided not to prosecute state-licensed cannabis companies. But this hands-off policy was lifted under his successor Donald Trump.

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In comparison, Canada’s approach is clearer.

Canada’s clarity

The Canadian government began legalizing medical cannabis in 2001. It approved recreational use of cannabis flower and oil in 2018, followed by food and lotions in 2019.

The government wants legal products to attract existing users without encouraging new ones, so it allows a wide variety of products.

But there is little advertising and the packaging is simple.

The medical sale is regulated nationally. Doctors can approve cannabis treatments, and patients can then grow their own plants or purchase products from licensed manufacturers.

In the meantime, the provincial governments are overseeing recreational sales. Some operate public sector businesses while others license private sector businesses.

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With this system, companies can send cannabis across provincial borders and integrate their activities nationwide. They can accept credit cards and list stocks on the stock markets.

Public bodies can also support activities related to cannabis. This creates some interesting cross-border contrasts:

Veterans Affairs Canada spends millions of dollars annually to reimburse veterinarians for medical cannabis costs. For comparison, US Veterans Affairs does not allow doctors to prescribe it.

Canadian cannabis companies receive funding from their government for pandemic relief. American firms, however, were largely excluded from the US aid package in March.

Most Canadian government employees, including soldiers, can use cannabis off-duty. Meanwhile, White House employees and other US workers risk fines for consuming.

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Canada’s legalization has not been flawless. Product shortages initially hampered sales. But once these subsided, sales grew as fast as the stores could open.

Prices fell as competition increased. In Ontario, retail prices now start below $ 4 per gram ($ 3 per gram), including tax. That undercuts many illegal sellers.

Legal sales represent most of Canadian usage today. This is a dramatic move away from illegal markets.

The political mood also changed. Cannabis was barely mentioned in the 2019 Canadian election campaign. Voters have accepted that cannabis is legal.

Congress advice

Canada shows the merits of full national legalization. What worked in Canada may not work in US Congress. Full legalization may not be sought this year. But it can start to give more clarity to Americans that Canadians enjoy.

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The SAFE Banking Act is only a first step in this direction. If passed by the U.S. Senate, it will help cannabis companies access bank accounts, insurance, and credit cards. However, additional measures are needed to enable standard federal tax deductions, stock exchange listings, and interstate shipping.

The Congress should also deal with cannabis research. Veterans Affairs and the DEA should support scientific projects, including studies of commercial cannabis products.

Replacing temporary provisions with permanent laws is another priority. Medical access should not depend on annual voting. Business continuity should not depend on attorney general’s preferences.

Decriminalization, or whatever Schumer defines it, alone might be better than nothing. However, when Americans use cannabis legally but not legally buy it, it can cause more problems than it solves. And it wouldn’t remove banking and research barriers.

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Cannabis policy is not easy – every option involves compromises. Canada has been phased and now has a three-year lead to find the best approach. Congress should begin this journey too.

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The authors do not work for, or consult with, any of the companies or organizations that would benefit from this article. You have not disclosed any relevant affiliations beyond your academic appointment.

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This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Information on disclosure can be found on the original website. Read the original article:

https://theconversation.com/what-the-united-states-can-learn-from-ca https://theconversation.com/w

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