Law Matters | Fall 2018




On October 17, 2018 the Federal Government will legalize cannabis, a decision that presents consumers, governments, and businesses with opportunities as well as challenges.

Some welcome the legalization of cannabis. They say that criminalization is a paternalistic and unnecessary infringement of liberty, whereas legalization will stimulate the economy, destigmatize recreational cannabis use in a manner that promotes more progressive discourse around addiction, and undermine black markets that fuel truly harmful criminal activity. Others oppose cannabis legalization. They raise concerns such as impaired driving (which is harder to police in the context of marijuana), health effects, and youth access.

Ultimately, the validity of these alleged benefits and concerns will turn on empirical questions. Will legalization increase or decrease cannabis consumption? Will legalization make it easier or harder for youth to access cannabis? Will legalization increase or decrease the use of other drugs, including alcohol? And, depending on the answers to these questions, a further inquiry arises: do many of the arguments supporting cannabis legalization extend to other drugs as well, and conversely, do arguments opposing cannabis legalization extend to alcohol?

We are thrilled with the fantastic and varied contributions in this edition. We begin with a piece from Kristen Merryweather describing the newly-minted Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (a creative means of maintaining the AGLC’s established acronym!). Annamaria Enenajor discusses the pressing need for cannabis amnesty in light of legalization. And Christin Elawny outlines the complex employer-perspective on cannabis regulation. These, and many other pieces, do an outstanding job of exploring the nuanced and contested terrain of cannabis legalization.

We hope you enjoy these outstanding contributions, and join us — and our contributors — in this critical conversation regarding Canada’s evolving relationship with cannabis.

Joshua Sealy-Harrington