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How These Countries Regulate Recreational Cannabis [Cannabis Insight 2021]

The legalization of cannabis varies significantly from country to country.

When it comes to smoking cannabis, the first thing you think of is maybe the "Coffee shop" in the Netherlands. In fact, the use of cannabis in the Netherlands is only "decriminalized" and is not yet legal. Although people and tourists can go to the cannabis shop to buy and use 5 grams and smoke on the street, people may still be targeted by the local police.

Although the United States is the initiator of the stigma of cannabis, states have also begun to reconsider the necessity of a ban on cannabis after half a century. Although the federal law still maintains the "cannabis ban," California has opened up the use of medical cannabis since 1996. Until 2021, 18 states in the United States, including Washington, DC, have legalized recreational cannabis.

Canada is the only country in the world that legalizes recreational cannabis. In 2018, Canada passed the Recreational Cannabis Act. The Associated Press reported that the "Cannabis Business Opportunities" created would be estimated to make an annual output value of 22.6 billion U.S. dollars for Canada. However, it took nearly 20 years for Canada to move from "legalization of medical treatment" to "legalization of recreational use."

Before discussing the legalization of cannabis in other countries, we might look at the regulations and legalization process of cannabis in these three countries and then think about where other countries might go next.

The struggle between U.S. federal law and state law.

In 1970, the United States Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which listed cannabis as a first-level controlled drug equivalent to heroin, still influential today.

Twenty-six years later, California passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, allowing patients with severe illnesses and related chronic diseases to purchase medical cannabis products on their own after evaluation by professional physicians. California became the first in the United States to open cannabis. (For medical purposes), but it also gives rise to the strange status quo that state laws override federal laws.

Therefore, the former U.S. Attorney General James. In the "Cole Memorandum" issued by James M. Cole on August 29, 2013, it was stated that the federal government will not control and intervene in policies related to cannabis for states that recognize cannabis legally. And measures.

In 2014, referendums on the legalization of cannabis in Oregon and Alaska were passed, which began to arouse the concern of the United Nations. The main reason is that the United States, as a signatory of the International Anti-drug Convention, has taken the lead in allowing state governments to enable people to vote on cannabis, which violates international law. However, then-Secretary of State William Brownfield (William Brownfield) pointed out that the time and space background of the United Nations' previous law formulation is different from the current one and should be revised according to the changes of the times.

The Biden administration has a positive attitude towards cannabis and supports gradual liberalization. When Vice President Kamala Harris was a California senator, she also co-sponsored the "MORE Act", advocating that cannabis should be removed from the "Controlled Substances Act (CSA)" and also related to cannabis should be removed. The form of conviction is expected to go further towards full legalization.

In July 2021, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a draft federal law on the decriminalization of cannabis, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, advocating that cannabis be removed from the Federal Controlled Drug List. And give states the power to implement cannabis control laws on their own. The latest progress of the bill is that at the end of September, the bill was passed by the House Judiciary Committee with 26 votes in favour and 15 votes against it.

At present, 37 states in the United States have legalized medical cannabis, and more than 18 states and Washington DC have legalized recreational cannabis. This also means that most Americans have the opportunity to obtain cannabis for medical or recreational purposes.

United States-One Country, Two Systems for American Cannabis

Almost all states in the United States gradually promote the legalization of cannabis. The first stage is from the illegal state to the decriminalization of cannabis to the approval of cannabis-related drugs by the Central Food and Drug Administration. The second stage is the legalization of medical cannabis products, allowing people holding "cannabis cards" to purchase related essential oils, lozenges, ointments and other products containing cannabidiol (CBD) ingredients at designated pharmacies (Dispensary).

The third stage is to enter the legal location of medical cannabis flowers. People can buy real cannabis flowers in designated pharmacies through certification documents such as cannabis cards.

In the fourth stage, people can go to pharmacies to purchase products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabis without a certificate. After the set of self-selling, similar to the current alcohol, can be manufactured and sold by itself without government approval.

Extended reading: The "Good and Evil" of Cannabis in Taiwan [Cannabis Insight]

However, it should be noted that although some states have legalized recreational cannabis, there is still a slight gap in enforcement. For example, California allows adults to carry less than 1 ounce of cannabis. In contrast, Connecticut will enable adults to own or consume 1.5 ounces of cannabis.

Colorado is the first state in the United States to legalize recreational cannabis. On November 6, 2012, the "Colorado Constitution Amendment No. 64" was passed by a referendum. The sale of cannabis was fully opened on New Year's Day, 2014. As long as they are 21 years old, local residents can buy 1 ounce, while foreigners can only buy 0.25 ounces.

Although it is legal for recreational use, Colorado also has a variety of control measures to prevent legal cannabis from flowing into the black market. For example, setting up a tracking system requires the industry to clearly indicate the ingredients on the packaging. The public is not allowed to leave Colorado with cannabis to not violate other state laws.

Canada - Legalization of Entertainment

Canada included cannabis on the illegal list in 1923, but after many years, it agreed to legalize medical cannabis in 2001. On April 20, 2016, on International cannabis Day, Canadian Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, said while attending the United Nations General Assembly that although the legalization of cannabis challenges many existing perceptions and norms, she believes that the legalization of cannabis in the future The vision and policies can effectively protect the youth ethnic group and improve the overall safety of society.

The Canadian government's "Cannabis Act" for legalization focuses on "preventing youth from being exposed to cannabis," "making criminal groups unprofitable," and "protecting adult health through legal cannabis channels." Among them, adults over 18 years old can hold a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis per person. According to this law, 1 gram of dried cannabis can also be replaced by 5 grams of fresh cannabis, 15 grams of edible cannabis products, 70 grams of liquid form cannabis products, 0.25 grams of liquid and solidly concentrated cannabis, or 1 cannabis seed.

The vision of legalizing cannabis across Canada will finally come true on October 18, 2018. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau successfully fulfilled his promise to combat the underground trade of cannabis for Canada during his 2015 campaign and reduce the high profits made by criminal groups through the sale of cannabis. Therefore, whether it is for medical, recreational, or cultivation of cannabis, it is considered feasible to be legal in Canada. Every eligible citizen can buy 30 grams of cannabis.

This move also made Canada the first major economy to legalize cannabis and the second country to legalize cannabis after Uruguay. The "Ontario Cannabis Retail Company" has also been opened in Ontario, Canada, allowing people to purchase cannabis products online.

However, legalization also questioned some conservative forces. Former Canadian Federal Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer believes that the legal consequences may allow young children to be easily exposed to drugs. Even if legalized regulations prohibit the use of cannabis products around children, whether it is possible to avoid children's exposure is still a question mark.

The Canadian media "CBC" reported that the average age of people who use cannabis in British Columbia and Ontario is 19, but in Alberta, it is 18. What is worrying is that all kinds of hemp products on the market, such as chocolate, brownies, cupcakes and even fudge, may cause children to eat by mistake. After Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, there have been reports of accidents in which children inadvertently consumed foods containing cannabis that required emergency medical treatment.

However, the Canadian government's survey of more than 10,000 people showed that more than 35% of Canadian citizens who used cannabis in 2020 used cannabis products less than one day in a month, but 18% of the people used cannabis daily. The official emphasized that the data has not changed compared with 2019. Therefore, Canada's approval of the public to use cannabis has not led to a significant increase in the number of cannabis users and the amount of cannabis used in the country.

The Canadian government's survey of more than 10,000 people shows that the opening of recreational cannabis has not led to a significant increase in the number of cannabis smokers and the use of cannabis in the country.

Netherlands - Decriminalize the Use of Cannabis

Many people may start to imagine ​​tulips, bicycles whizzing by on the road, and people sitting in the "Coffee Shop" in the Netherlands.

However, according to the current Dutch law, cannabis is only "decriminalized" but not legalized. It is still illegal in the Netherlands to hold more than five cannabis plants or more than 5 grams of cannabis. It is also illegal for people under the age of 18 to smoke.

In 1976, the Netherlands revised the "Opium Law" and