Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws recently made headlines by announcing they will cover medical cannabis for their employees. But the devil is always in the details. While these two chains should be praised for their progressive steps forward, we also need to ask who this coverage is provided for, how much is being covered, as well as how this fits with the overall long-term strategy to position pharmacies as the front-line dispensers of medical cannabis.
We often create policies that are meant to protect youth, particularly around drug use. But what we actually end up doing is criminalizing and victimizing them further. With regulation we'll actually be able to start to undo some of the harms caused by prohibition - harms a lot worse than the use of cannabis itself.
The way the media and government treats the idea of minors and cannabis or minors and alcohol is very different. When a dispensary is alleged to have sold some cannabis to a minor, they face a police raid and harsh commentary in the media. But the daily sales to minors from liquor outlets is not treated like a big deal at all.
Considering this justice system crisis, cannabis should obviously be the lowest priority for police and the courts, but it's not. Not only are police launching more raids against dispensaries than ever before, but ridiculous charges for small-scale "cannabis crimes" are continuing from coast to coast.
Legalization of all non medical use of drugs is an attainable goal. But confronting the opioid crisis is an urgent and unprecedented call to action. Public health experts and their activist allies are leading the way. Let's not get caught up in complicated and protracted arguments about legalization of all drugs.
Since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, I estimate that there have been over 56,000 "police reported incidents" of cannabis possession in Canada. Note that these are not cases where people are being arrested for a more serious crime, and the police also find a joint in their pocket. These are "federal statute incidents reported by police, by most serious offence." So in all these "incidents," cannabis possession was the most serious "crime" being committed.
Everybody wants to know when the federal government will finally make this election promise a reality. Will it be next year? Or could it still be a couple of years away? I want to know as much as anyone else. And fortunately, I don't have to resort to asking for guesstimates from eternally-optimistic pot aficionados or tipsy businessmen in the bar. Instead, I'm fortunate enough to have access to the hotshots who run Canada's publicly-traded, industrial-scale growers.
The emerging legalization of marijuana is an opportunity for continued and new business success in First Nation communities. As parts of the U.S. have started legalizing the sale of marijuana (and Canada is on its way), cannabis capitalists are flocking to invest in dispensaries and other marijuana-related projects.