WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

16 Oct 2018 | Press Release

Canada’s Legalization of Cannabis Will Provide Powerful Guidance for Other Countries Pursuing Drug Policy Reform

Washington, DC—On October 17, Canada will become the second country in the world—and the first G7 country—to legally regulate cannabis for non-medical use, joining Uruguay, which approved a national cannabis law in 2013. A signature campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new law was approved by Parliament and received royal assent in June 2018, and legal sales are set to launch tomorrow.

As Canada moves ahead with its regulatory approach to cannabis, John Walsh, the Director for Drug Policy and the Andes at research and advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), issued the following statement:

“Canada’s move to regulate cannabis is based on a broad recognition that prohibitionist policies have roundly failed to protect the health, security, and human rights of the country’s citizens. Canada’s reputation as a good global citizen, its painstaking process in designing its new law, and the sheer size of its legal cannabis market makes this a rare before-and-after moment in the history of global drug policy. As Canada moves ahead with cannabis regulation, it will provide enormously beneficial lessons for other people and governments around the globe who are increasingly recognizing that cannabis prohibition is a dead-end and that new approaches are needed.”

See WOLA’s other resources on legal regulation of cannabis:

  • Earlier this year, WOLA Director for Drug Policy and the Andes John Walsh testified before the Canadian Senate on how Canada can ensure that its cannabis policy reforms are consistent with the country’s international legal obligations.
  • A March 2018 iPolitics op-ed co-authored by Walsh explains how Canada can align its efforts to regulate cannabis with its obligations under international law.
  • A WOLA report lays out how countries pursuing drug regulation policies can use the inter se mechanism—whereby a group of countries agree to modify certain treaty provisions among themselves alone—to ensure that they are consistent with their international legal obligations.
  • A March 2018 report by WOLA and the Brookings Institution on Uruguay’s progress in legalizing and regulating its cannabis market, and lessons that other countries can draw from Uruguay’s experience.