On October 17, Canada passed a law, the Cannabis Act, that will officially legalize cannabis for recreational use across the country. The legalization of cannabis was passed by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, as legalization of recreational marijuana was one of the Liberal’s main campaign promises. The stance of justification for the legalization is that it will help the government make a profit off the taxation of legal marijuana, it will help assure that marijuana is safely consumed (not laced with other fatal drugs), and it will keep profits out of criminals’ hands. However, legalization will also create many problems, specifically for youth.

The legalization of marijuana may very well encourage youth to use marijuana. This is very dangerous as marijuana could lead to the use of other fatal drugs. Even using marijuana by itself can lead to health problems; such as, schizophrenia, which can damage the brains of youth that have not yet fully developed. Even responsible youth who intelligently make the decision to not use marijuana, will be exposed to second-hand smoke due to all the other people using it. Second-hand smoke is already too common and unhealthy for youth, and now with the legalization of the drug, it will only become worse. Canada may never breathe a breath of clean air again.

A photo of the Canada flag, in which the maple leaf is replaced with the marijuana leaf. Canada is now the first major country to fully legalize marijuana.

Many concerns have also been raised about how companies will profit off the sales of cannabis. There is a big concern over the idea that companies could make the marijuana industry into a big monopoly, and generate billions off sales, and now that would all be legal. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it would mean a lot of tax revenue for the government.

With the legalization of cannabis, one of the biggest concerns is that the government is sending out a message to encourage youth to smoke marijuana. When the government legalizes something, many believe that they are confirming that it is okay to use it. So, by legalizing marijuana, many worries have arisen that it encourages youth to try and use the drug. An article by Global News, therapist and councilor, Jim Stimson, discusses the problems with marijuana and shares a story of his sister who used marijuana, and it eventually led to her death. “She relapsed to marijuana before she got to other drugs, and it eventually took her life. My concern is we also know when something new is introduced to the public, and it appears by being introduced that (the government) somehow endorses it, it’s not harmful… that the percentage of young people using it increases rapidly, so what is an average age of 12 (for youth to try drugs) now, in three to five years could easily become 10 for first-time use,” said Stimson.

A photo of a now legal grow-op, in Vancouver.

One of the biggest problems with legalization is how big corporations might appropriate it (may get in on the act). With marijuana now being legal, will we see big corporations or major brownie, or cookie corporations adding marijuana to their products and selling them legally? Will we walk into a store and purchase and purchase a marijuana product licensed by a big corporation? What used to be illegal marijuana shops may now become trendy little shops. This glamorization of marijuana may encourage youth to try the drug, as it is more culturally accepted. Many people may try marijuana just because it is legal.

Among all the controversy, an anti-pot protest emerged outside the Vancouver art gallery. People protested the legalization of marijuana with signs; such as, one sign read, “What about rights for non-smokers?” As well, another sign stated, “Marijuana facts: 1. Shrinks the developing brain up to age 28. 2. Causes sterilization in young men. 3. Unmasks schizophrenia. 4. Lowers I.Q. 5. Promotes anxiety, depression and paranoia. 6. Lowers ambition and motivation.”

While there are positives about the legalization of cannabis, such as the fact that the government can now tax marijuana and make a profit out of it, keep profits out of the hands of criminals and it will be better for those who use the drug medicinally, there are many problems that arise from the legalization, specifically for youth.