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article imageOp-Ed: Canada to look at economic and social effects of legal grass

By Paul Wallis     Nov 21, 2017 in Lifestyle
Ottawa - Statistics Canada is to hold a study of the potentials of legal grass. The big questions are what’s an “economic effect”, other than sales, for example. What’s a “social effect”?
Details aren’t exactly screaming large amounts of information at those looking at what the study will do. While there are some good, reasonable purposes behind the study on face value, is this going to be another all-negative, Puritan view of grass?
Grass is famous for generating more expert opinions than politics. Every bandwagon has its “position” on grass, usually based on some equivocal, half-baked agenda.
Consider this: High fructose is killing and afflicting people with diseases more than most modern wars, and it’s not subject to study. Grass is high profile, and it’s not yet a major industry, so it’s an easy target.
To be fair, there’s not yet any reason to assume Statcan will be taking a purely agenda-based view. The suspicion, however, based on decades of disinformation about marijuana, is that any “study” will equate to a whole stack of qualifiers and caveats designed to hinder legalization.
More likely still is a range of “measures” like plain packaging for tobacco and higher prices/excise. These committee-think measures have done more for organised crime tobacco sales in Australia, where it originated, than anything else. Adding that to grass legislation is likely to be equally ineffective and counterproductive.
(In Australia, a packet of good tobacco can cost as much as $60. For that same $60, you can buy 600 cigarettes on the black market. Strange that the anti-regulation mob are all in favor of regulation in any area where organised crime benefits and makes gigantic amounts of money.)
Statscan has a few obstacles to its study, too. Cannabis is still illegal, and they want to measure sales? It’s doable, but only by sampling, which for anything illegal can be hit or miss. How do you get a margin of error, when you don’t know the demographic size?
Social effects, too, could be problematic. Will legal grass create a Canada of lotus-eating, maple syrup-IV using Canadians? What are the risks? Will Tim Hortons declare independence from its US owners, and start a new province based on grass cafés? Will there be a movement to replace the maple leaf with a marijuana leaf? (If so, too late; as you can see, they’ve already thought of that. You could still have a great argument about how many leaves should be on it, though.)
Worse – What if people are so stoned they suddenly develop an interest in something other than their phones? Could legalization accidentally reinvent talking to other people, face to face? The potential horrors are unimaginable.
I could see a few worthwhile avenues of study:
1. Are there any actual user issues? Never mind the old “Killer Weed” fantasies, are there any possible downsides? Given that modern grass is way, way stronger than old-style 60s grass, how do you measure risks?
2. Allergens? I’m not sure if this is an issue with grass, but given the vast numbers of people with allergic conditions, is there a problem, or not?
3. What about cut products? What if some jerk decides to mix the various toxic substances freely available in the US with it? How do you deal with that?
4. Prices? Are prices an issue? What’s the best price to bury criminal revenue? What’s the easiest way to manage prices?
5. Social effects, good ones? Does legal grass reduce stress levels? It should. The question is how you measure the value of that effect.
Good luck, Statscan; it’ll be a world first, whatever you do. Let’s hope people see the values of the study, because it is worth doing.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Statistics canada, marijuana legalization Canada, Statistics Canada grass survey
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