As the U.S. drastically changes the national health care system through the implementation of Obamacare, our neighbors to the north are also overhauling key aspects of their health care structure. In an attempt to move existing medical marijuana market from individual grower or total-government control into the hands of private enterprise, Canada recently launched a marijuana free market estimated to be worth $1.6 billon yearly. The new market will open the doors to legalized international marijuana trade since Canada will allow marijuana imports from countries like the Netherlands. The Canadian government will not directly interfere with prices of marijuana and the marijuana will be priced at whatever amount the market can bear. Initially, medical marijuana consumers will likely see a price bump in marijuana; however experts estimate that with time the marijuana prices will decline as a result of competition between marijuana businesses. In fact, medical marijuana under the new system is projected to fall to $3 a gram. Patients needing access to medical marijuana, even patients that were approved under Canada’s prior medical marijuana system, must have a medical professional prescribe medical marijuana to the patients through the use of a government-approved form. Canada hopes to be able to serve half a million patients by 2024.
Canada’s greater embrace of medical marijuana comes at a time of increasing support for medical marijuana across the world, especially from the U.S. One of the U.S.’s most trusted medical authorities, CNN’s chief medical expert, and past candidate for U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has recently voiced strong support of medical marijuana. Dr. Gupta even apologized for being wrong regarding his past opposition to medical marijuana. Forty percent of U.S. states have passed medical marijuana laws, despite conflicts with federal law that classifies marijuana as one of the most dangerous drugs with no medical benefits. The American Medical Association has supported a change to this federal classification to allow for better research into the medical properties of marijuana.
Canada’s move highlights the fact that the U.S. is the only major country in North America that has not reformed marijuana laws on a federal level. With Mexico’s federal government decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in 2009, Canada’s federal government legalizing medical marijuana in 2001 and now expanding the medical marijuana system, the U.S. federal government lags behind in terms of continent-wide reform.