Canada’s marijuana legalisation could directly affect the global war on drugs among many others

By @chelean on
A man smokes marijuana during an annual 4/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, April 20, 2016.
A man smokes marijuana during an annual 4/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, April 20, 2016. Reuters/Chris Wattie

Canada’s legalisation of marijuana, for both recreational and medicinal purposes, will be a historical moment for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and such a thing will not go unnoticed in other countries. It is expected have a direct effect on existing global treaties, international partnerships on the war against illegal drugs, and other nations’ decision to also consider decriminalising the weed on a national scale.

Experts in Canada say that pushing for cannabis legalisation could send negative signals to various international treaties, among which is Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where Canada is a party. Its main obligation to date is to seamlessly and efficiently explain its side to other countries that remain unwilling to decriminalise marijuana usage. One wrong move, they say, could potentially affect international partnerships, which is what’s also happening to many Latin American nations pushing for the same advocacy. These countries are facing opposition and criticism from the United States and other EU nation who are against it at a national level.

Errol Mendes, a constitutional and international law expert at the University of Ottawa, says that international relations should also be considered when legislators begin drafting a future cannabis law. The current political situations in their ally countries must also be looked upon with sincerity.

In the US, for instance, a republican win means stricter global policies against marijuana in the next four years to come. The UK and other European countries must also be monitored, as these are the nations that could possibly legalise pot in the near future. A successfully drafted law — which means one that does not only favour Canadian citizens but also the future of Canada’s international ties — could influence European countries as they transition into becoming a federally marijuana legal nation. 

This is also what the memo sent by United Nations General Assembly to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. "As part of examining legalisation of cannabis possession and production, Canada will need to explore how to inform the international community and will have to take the steps needed to adjust its obligations under these conventions,” the memo obtained by The Canadian Press reads.

Securing membership and civil relations with the members of these various treaties could also help the inchoate marijuana market in Canada to become bigger in the near future. An intact foreign trade relation means seamless international expansions from budding marijuana-focus companies in Canada. The vice versa — as foreign marijuana startups,  like promising US firm Med-X, for instance — can also potentially expand to Canada without facing obstacles in the guise of difficult-to-surpass red tapes and rulings.

Thus, many legislators believe that cannabis legalisation can help in alleviating the existence of hard drug-related crimes. Even in the US, it has been repeatedly cited by advocates that it certainly and successfully did since state-wide decriminalisation. In the UK, a party conducted a study led by former police chiefs, academicians, doctors and other field experts revealed that it could help not only in trimming down drug-related cases, but also generate a huge amount of additional tax revenues.

Still, experts agree that what the Canada needs to do is to show the world what it can do as a pioneering nation in this matter, and that it can smoothly transition into a federally legal nation without severing international ties and self-inflicting harm to its good reputation as a nation. And the Canadians must also learn to cooperate, and even wait, as many of them are now acting as though federal legalisation is already existent.

It’s Trudeau’s call now. The Liberal leader should be patient and extra smart in signing a future law that could be both historically good or not. The nationwide cannabis legalisation may be a good thing, but he also needs to convince other countries that it’s not just a Canadian thing.