On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country to legalize the drug marijuana for recreational use on a national level (Uruguay was the first). Many people are watching Canada to see whether this will affect the use and legislation of marijuana in the United States and other countries.
Marijuana legalization creates a host of questions relating to health and the law.
Distinctly different questions surround the health implications of marijuana. Many marijuana products (the drug itself and products derived from marijuana) contain a compound known as THC. THC affects the brain and produces the feeling of being high – a state of euphoria and relaxation.
Speaking of brains, scientists say that young people’s brains are still developing up until the age of twenty-five or so. Since marijuana affects the brain, some people worry that marijuana could affect the still-developing minds of young people. There are also worries that even if people are older, their marijuana use could affect their performance on the job and behind the wheel of vehicles.
On the other hand, other people claim that another compound in marijuana, CBD, has a range of medical uses, doesn’t affect the brain as THC does, and has fewer addictive properties than other medical treatments. Several U.S. states have agreed, allowing their residents to use products with CBD for medical reasons.
Other U.S. states are asking voters if they want to implement medical marijuana or recreational marijuana in their states. Canada permits all Canadians to purchase medical marijuana as well as recreational marijuana.
People might be tempted to buy marijuana in Canada and bring it to the United States. This is illegal, however, even if people bring it to a U.S. state where it is legal medically and recreationally. Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level in the United States.
Similarly, if people buy marijuana legally in a U.S. state where it is legal to do so, it is still illegal to bring the drug across the border to Canada. Driving under the influence of marijuana across the U.S.-Canada border (or anywhere in those two countries) is also illegal, of course. There are also legal questions surrounding the use of marijuana on the job in geographic areas where marijuana use is legal.
Making marijuana use legal, then, has also created many questions that people are still trying to answer.