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Opinion

Tug-of-war between scrapping pot’s black market, upping health outcomes yet to be resolved

By Jean-François Crépault      

There has been a tension at the heart of the cannabis legalization project from its very beginning. Its two main objectives are, to a great extent, in contradiction.

For the potential public health benefits of legalization to be fully realized, the legal market will certainly need to supplant the black market—eventually. Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

October 2019 marks the one-year anniversary of Canada’s cannabis legalization framework, and many have taken the opportunity to opine on its progress. A common theme is that one year in, legalization is “a dud” because the black market remains strong. In this type of analysis, the persistence of the black market seems to be the main criterion for assessing legalization. But Bill C-45 had two main objectives: not just replacing the illicit market with a legal, regulated market, but also mitigating the health impacts of cannabis legalization. This latter objective often seems to be an afterthought.

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