Despite the legalization of cannabis, unlicensed sales have not gone away. Health Canada is increasing its staff to handle applications for cannabis licenses. They’ve also started risk-based triaging of research applications. For instance, a single project involving cannabis in small amounts may qualify for expedited review. Despite the changes, some people say that legalization still has some way to go. Let’s look at some of the barriers to accessing legal cannabis.
Legalization hasn’t eliminated unlicensed sales
Despite its positive effect on public health, legalization has not completely eliminated the sales of unlicensed cannabis. The revenue generated by recreational cannabis sales must be used to help communities that were severely impacted by the “War on Drugs.” The new law will establish a 13-person Cannabis Advisory Board. Members must include former offenders and individuals with prior drug convictions. It also requires local government entities to employ the services of a representative from minority communities.
While there are some legal loopholes in the system, they haven’t completely closed the door to unlicensed marijuana sales. State legislatures and regulators are assessing the legality of marijuana, and longtime dealers like delivery operator Bo are navigating the gray market. Still, many dealers are preparing to move to a legalized cannabis business. Their sales have fallen by a bit since the beginning of the year, but they are not giving up hope.
Youth access to cannabis
Youth access to cannabis in Canada has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of youth using marijuana growing up. According to the COMPASS Study, conducted annually among high school students in Ontario and Alberta, the rate of weekly use of cannabis among youth rose from eight to 19 percent in 2014-15. However, the study’s sample is not representative of Canadian youth as a whole. It is also not known whether the increase in use is due to the public health messaging surrounding marijuana, which has largely stayed the same.
The study was conducted online and included a survey of 16 to 30-year-olds with a Canadian IP address. The respondents were surveyed via a panel maintained by Leger, which has approximately 400,000 active members. Of the total sample, half were recruited by non-probability methods, such as commercial surveys, while the remaining respondents were selected by probability. The study sampled youth aged 16 to 30 across Canada, with Quebec youth recruited through their parents. Parental consent was required.
Impact of COVID-19 on cannabis use
Several factors influence the use of cannabis and alcohol. COVID-19 can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease. This infection may be the cause of loneliness, boredom, and changes in daily routine. Both substances can affect the immune system, so people with COVID-19 should seek guidance on reducing their risk. Here is a brief overview of how COVID-19 affects cannabis use in Canada.
A study conducted in Canada prior to the pandemic found that alcohol and cannabis are common drugs. It found that one in six Canadians has smoked a cigarette or smoked cannabis in the past 3 months. Smoking and heavy drinking are also common. The Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 1: COVID-19: Its Effects on Cannabis Use in Canada
Barriers to accessing legal cannabis
Despite the growing acceptance of medical cannabis, there remain many obstacles for patients to obtain a prescription for legal medical cannabis in Canada. In British Columbia, for example, patients must obtain a medical authorization document from their health care provider before obtaining a prescription for medical marijuana. It is also difficult to find reliable information about the use of cannabis for medical purposes, as there are two different licensing systems in the province. Another barrier to legal access to cannabis in Canada is the lack of regulated dispensaries across the country. In these circumstances, patients often resort to illicit storefront dispensaries and unlicensed growers for their medical needs. In 2000, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed access to medical cannabis to be a human right, but continued inaction has resulted in a lucrative industry that lacks medical oversight, standards, or guidance for medical users.
The Canadian and US state governments have replicated their current regulatory frameworks for alcohol and tobacco, reinforcing the harmful stigma associated with marijuana use. The prohibition of cannabis advertising and sponsorship by Big Canna has also hindered research partnerships with academic institutions. While the Canadian Cannabis Act prohibits scholars and companies from hosting events and hosting research partnerships, industry-funded organizations have worked with universities to train cannabis workers. Ultimately, there is no lack of demand for the product.