As Canadian Cannabis Sales Skyrocket, Study Finds Legalization Fears Did Not Materialize

In 2018, Canada became just the second country on the planet (after Uruguay) to legalize cannabis. Three years later, Canadian cannabis continues to set sales records, with huge gains reported for the summer of 2021.

Statistics Canada, an agency of the Canadian government, released statistics showing that sales reached almost $319 million in June 2021. That’s the highest month on record.

The biggest sales boosts for Canadian cannabis came from the most populated provinces, including Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia. In Ontario alone, sales were a staggering 146 percent higher in June 2021 than in the same month in 2020. The news is welcome for the cannabis industry in Canada, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Fears About Legalization Have Not Materialized

The sales figures show that consumers in Canada are taking advantage of the availability of legalized cannabis. At the same time, a new study has shown that fears about what would happen with legalization have not materialized.

The study, published in the Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that fears legalization opponents often cite had not become issues in Canada. Specifically, the study found that:

  • There has been “no marked increase” in youth cannabis use
  • There’s been a reduction in both adult and youth-related marijuana arrests
  • There’s also been more targeted public health messaging on cannabis use

The authors also noted that other arguments against legalization have not come to pass: greater incidence of harm to youth brain development and increased presentations of severe mental illnesses associated with cannabis use.

In the U.S. NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri commented on the study, saying, “From a public health standpoint, regulation and education are preferable strategies to criminalization. Overall, adult-use legalization is working largely as voters and politicians envisioned, which is why an increasing number of jurisdictions are shifting their policies in this direction.”

Where Does Canada Spend Marijuana Tax Money?

The sales show the increasing popularity of Canadian cannabis products. The study shows that many of the fears about legalization’s impact on young people have not come to pass. But there’s a third lesson from the increase in Canadian cannabis drug sales: what they can do to fund public projects.

Canadian cannabis tax revenue and fees are shared between the federal government, which keeps 25 percent, and the country’s provinces, who receive the other 75 percent. Each province then decides how to share the money among the province’s cities and towns. Provinces can also add taxes of their own onto marijuana sales.

The idea is to let provincial and local governments decide where to spend the money. Options include areas such as educational programs, school building projects and road maintenance and construction projects. Many states in the U.S. have used cannabis tax dollars for similar purposes.

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