Marijuana: Learning from Washington State

On October 17, 2018, Canada will become the second nation, after Uruguay, to legalize marijuana. In doing so we have stepped outside of our commitment to the United Nations to restrict the use of Schedule 1 controlled substances. To date, the UN and other nations have not responded negatively to our new legislation.

Perhaps they are waiting and watching before determining if a response is required. Perhaps we can establish national protocols that will become an international standard. But where do we turn to for insights into the path from prohibition to legalization?

The first state in the United States to legalize marijuana was Washington state – what lessons can we learn from its experience with legalization?

Does marijuana use increase? Do DUI’s rise? How do you measure, monitor and ensure the highest standards? And how do you ensure use among teens does not increase? The issues are many and they cover everything from policing to public health, growing, producing, quality, retail and tax collection.

Will banks allow marijuana producers, processors and retailers to open bank accounts? Without them, how are taxes paid? In Washington state, the national banks all said they were not going to launder drug money. The state had to pass a bill that allowed local banks to accept money from registered marijuana retailers and producers. Do we have to do the same here in Canada? These are just some of the many issues that will arise and need to be addressed.

We invited Rick Garza, the Director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the lessons our neighbour to the south has learned since legalizing marijuana in 2012.


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Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future

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