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Get High With a Little Help From My Friends

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The US and Canada have been long-standing BFFs for well over a hundred years with our last “spat” being the war of 1812. Now that the United States is the first of the two to legalize and regulate cannabis, it’s natural that they will have some friendly advice for their best bud Canada as Canada tries to regulate its best bud.

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at New York University and as reported in the Globe and Mail, he advises to “Do it cautiously. A bunch of the mistakes that are happening in the U.S. don’t have to happen in Canada.” Mark and other experts are referring in part to marijuana access issues, frowning on companies pushing it on people or encouraging them to consume more.

Kleiman and Jonathan Caulkins, a professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, are trying to get governments to treat weed not as a commodity from which they can profit, but as “temptation goods” like sugary snacks or gambling, things to be enjoyed but not overused. The big example in this group is alcohol, its usage shaped over the years by a combination of legislation and social influence. They cite that booze is not consumed by most people before lunch and that this is not a law but rather a social norm.

It’s unclear whether cannabis would be seen by mainstream consumers in the same way, due to the significant number of people who enjoy a good “wake and bake,” but perhaps that will be a social norm in itself and similar to the “hair of the dog.”

Caulkins added that most people are “very happy” with their cannabis use, but his concern is for the involvement of the corporate commercialized regime that tries to sell as much pot as it can using various marketing techniques. He says it is important that we introduce social norms to take the place of those laws currently being removed.

Whether or not social norms for pot will be accepted by the cannabis-loving community is unclear, considering this community was unjustly vilified for so many decades. Now, as the government paves the way for private corporate producers to sell to everyone, with marketing or not, it may be like opening the floodgates for the general public, regardless of how it’s done. It’s like denying your kids candy for years and then giving them the keys to Willy Wonka’s Factory.

Photo Courtesy of Muratart

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