A team of addiction specialists published a commentary in the Sept 21, 2015 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal calling on Canadian legislators to reconsider cannabis prohibition.
"We're hoping to provide some direction to policy-makers in Canada to encourage them to rethink their current policies around cannabis, to move away from prohibition because it doesn't work and has a lot of harms associated with it," Dr. Sheryl Spithoff, co-author of the commentary, told CBC News.
Dr. Spithoff suggests that legalization will help control the supplies and sales of cannabis.
The commentary challenges Prime Minister Stephen Harper's staunch opposition to legalization. And it may bolster the fortunes of Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair, Harper's opponents in the upcoming election Oct 19. Trudeau supports legalization and Mulcair decriminalization.
However, Dr. Spithoff and her colleagues are wary of the cannabis market because of the focus on profit, rather than public health.
"A frequently cited concern with legalization is that it will allow the rise of Big Cannabis, similar to Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol," the published commentary states. "These powerful multinational corporations have revenues and market expansion as their primary goals, with little consideration of the impact on public health. They increase tobacco and alcohol use by lobbying for favourable regulations and funding huge marketing campaigns. It is important that the regulations actively work against the establishment of Big Cannabis."
Dana Larsen of Sensible BC, a Canadian advocacy group for marijuana reform, applauds the recommendation to create a legal, regulated market. "It's better than prohibition," he told Civilized. "Prohibition means you have no control over it at all. If you want control, you have to legalize."
Larsen wants to see regulation focus on health instead of business: "We should regulate it to make people have access to a clean and healthy product," he said, noting that prohibition means there's no control over pesticides and other chemicals used in the cultivation of cannabis. "Right now, the law is much more harmful than cannabis."
Asked if Canada should prevent Big Cannabis from sprouting up in Canada, Larsen flatly disagreed: I think it's good if cannabis becomes a big industry."