Yesterday Canada stood in front of the United Nations in Vienna and declared its intentions to “legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access” to marijuana. While not unanticipated, it was a bold move for our country – and the first important step for legalizing recreational marijuana in Canada. Since the Trudeau government was elected in October last year, the international community is watching Canada as an instigator of progressive change. Canada’s bold position on safe injection sites and legalizing marijuana stirred the crowds and was met with applause. The world will never look back at marijuana prohibition after 2016.
There is an incredible significance with what happened this week in Vienna.
There is an incredible significance with what happened this week in Vienna. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) at the United Nations is having an annual gathering of UN member states to discuss the topic of drugs and crime. Next month, the UN General Assembly meets in New York to discuss drugs and crime in their full gathering – and this week’s meeting is seen as a foreshadowing of the approaching debate.
So why all the fuss about the United Nations?
Canada is an important member of the United Nations, and every UN member has signed international treaties agreeing to treat marijuana as an illegal drug (controlled substance). If Canada were to legalize recreational marijuana (no matter how tight the controls), other UN members could issue sanctions against Canada. So yes, Trudeau has declared his intentions to legalize recreational marijuana, but he needs the support of our UN colleagues. Note that Canada doesn’t need the permission of other UN member states to legalize marijuana, but Canada doesn’t want to risk its political stability in the world scene.
A few decades ago, the United Nations was promoting a drug-free world – and believed it could be done. Since then, the battle has been fought harder than ever, but without any significant progress. It’s costing us more than tax dollars; it’s costing us unnecessary incarcerations for consumers and it’s keeping the drug lords busy (and happy). In 1998 the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared that “We need to accept that a drug-free world is an illusion” insisting that we legalize and regulate personal drug use.
Up until this date, the United Nations has been waiting for a member state to take the first bold move – and to lead the United Nations into a new era fighting the war on drugs in a progressive way. Trudeau seems to be advancing Canada prominently at the United Nations, and last week declared Canada’s plan to have a seat on the UN Security Council). The world has been waiting for a first-world country to step up and say “Because it’s 2016”.
Canada’s announcements in Vienna caused a lot of stir and applause, and which should be seen as a foreshadowing of the UN meeting next month where marijuana (among other drugs) will be discussed at length.
What this means is that Canada is now on track for legalizing (and regulating) recreational marijuana. Not only does Health Canada have to modify the MMPR by August 2016 to bring change to the current medical marijuana system, but Canada is also in line for being the first major UN member to legalize recreational marijuana.
When will this happen? My opinion is that by late 2016 / early 2017 we will see the changes happen at the UN level. By this time, Canada should have finished its cross-government consultations for setting up its new regulatory regime. First draft of regulations may appear by mid-2017, which means late 2017 / early 2018 for these to come into law. This will mean thousands of dispensaries, ready access to marijuana for Canadians (and tourists), and a booming new industry taking root.
Today, the MMPR is still a valid regulatory model, and a company that wishes to manufacture medical marijuana can make an application and start selling. Naturally, any company that gets their foot in the door today will have a tremendous advantage in 2017-2018 when recreational production is legitimate.
And by the way, the UN meeting in New York happens right before April 20th, the international day celebrating marijuana consumption.
NHP Consulting offers full consulting services for MMPR medical marijuana production – from seed to sale – and has helped many applicants through the process. Gaining Health Canada approval is the single most challenging component in starting a marijuana production facility (97%+ fail rate). None of our files have been refused. Contact us today to learn how we can help. We are currently accepting a few more clients for the upcoming two quarters and due to the high demand of our services space is limited.