Barring some major backtracking by Canada’s new Liberal government, marijuana could soon be legal across the land.
Getting rid of the laws that criminalize the drug shouldn’t be too challenging, according to one U.S. official, but actually implementing and monitoring the market for it will be a complex exercise.
Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division director Lewis Koski spoke to The West Block‘s Tom Clark this weekend about his state’s experience since it made marijuana legal for recreational purposes back in 2013.
“One of the biggest challenges for us was being first, and even now being further down the path than probably almost anyone, we still find that this is a complex policy to implement and there’s always things that we’re looking at to improve the statues and improve the regulations,” Koski said.
The state regulates and monitors marijuana consumption carefully. Packages must be child-resistant, there are strict labeling requirements that give the consumer more information about what’s in the product, and specific statutes limit how much THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) can be in edible products.
Consumers must be at least 21 to buy pot, and can legally possess one ounce. Residents are also allowed to grow six plants. There are retail stores, just as there likely would be in Canada, but all are tightly controlled by the state.
“Local jurisdictions also have the option of opting out of the commercialized portion of the market, and so we have about 330 different local jurisdictions in the State of Colorado and just over a third of them have allowed for commercialized marijuana in their jurisdictions,” Koski noted.
Canada may face similar levels of complexity if provincial or municipal governments can opt out of commercialization, he said.
“I’m assuming you’ll have a lot of variations from coast to coast in terms of how people in various jurisdictions feel about marijuana legalization and how they want to approach it.”