So, You’ve Legalized Cannabis. Now What?

So, You’ve Legalized Cannabis. Now What?
A worker holds trimmed marijuana as it comes out of a high-volume cannabis-trimming machine in Delta, British Columbia, Sept. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

Four years have now passed since cannabis was first legalized in Canada. At the time, the country became the second in the world to fully regulate its recreational cannabis supply chain, after Uruguay. Building on the Uruguayan and Canadian experiences, along with those across a number of U.S. states, several other countries are now moving toward some form of cannabis regulation, including Malta, Luxembourg, Germany, Morocco, South Africa, Thailand, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States.

Yet, the legal cannabis experience has been far from straightforward and homogenous so far, and there’s still a lot we don’t know as to the effects of regulation. Canada is now embarking on a long-overdue review of its 2018 Cannabis Act, which could add some clarity to debates over how to improve regulatory frameworks moving forward. What we already know, however, is that across the board, legalization has presented policymakers with five persistent dilemmas.

Social Justice vs. Commercial Pressures

Many advocates of cannabis legalization around the world have focused their arguments on the need to move beyond the “War on Drugs” framework and its repressive policies. Racial minority and otherwise marginalized communities around the world have indeed been disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Yet, as we have seen in the past few years, legalization does not necessarily mean decriminalization or reparations. The International Drug Policy Consortium points out that “legal markets can … fail to include comprehensive measures to redress the harms brought by the ‘war on drugs’, and further criminalise people that remain in the illegal spaces inevitably persisting outside any regulated market.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.