Will Canada legalise cannabis use?

The Washington Post reports:

The new Liberal government has promised to act quickly to legalize marijuana for general use, which would make the first G-20 country to end prohibition on a national level.

Personally I would to see the results of the impacts of legalisation in those US states which have done so. It will almost be a controlled experiment as we will be able to compare any changes in the crime rates and health data in those states which have legalised cannabis to those which have not.

For police forces across Canada, the month of August is harvest time.

Cops slip on their coveralls, grab thick gardening gloves, shoulder machetes and begin the annual ritual of chopping down marijuana plants hidden in cornfields, remote mountain valleys and forest clearings.

If the grower is unlucky enough to be caught red-handed, he is cuffed and taken off to court. Each police unit hits two or three of these hidden marijuana plantations, with the confiscated pot taken to incinerators. The destruction of marijuana plants goes on for about two weeks and then it’s back to normal police work.

Has this war on marijuana worked?

“No, it hasn’t,” said Clive Weighill, chief of the Saskatoon police force, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and a veteran of the August raids.

Taxing it might be a better option.

The Liberals point out that more than 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for simple possession of marijuana and the number continues to grow. They claim this is a needless destruction of lives.

Each year the federal government spends as much as 500 million Canadian dollars (roughly $375 million U.S.) on drug enforcement and prosecution, according to the auditor general. About 50 million Canadian dollars goes to raiding marijuana plantations. These figures do not include the money spent by provincial and municipal authorities.

Yet a large number of people still use cannabis. For about a decade now, studies have shown that past-year use among Canadians age 15 to 24 is the highest in the developed world, with a recent study putting the rate at 24.6 percent. For adults 25 and over the figure drops to 8 percent.

A lot of money for little results.

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