Canadian Underwriter

Medical Marijuana: Does it work?

January 17, 2017   by

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Around the world, governments are approaching the recreational possession and use of marijuana and other drugs very differently.

These countries and states are leading the way when it comes to implementing new legislation and adopting more lenient attitudes to help change how the possession and use are perceived.

Medical Marijuana


When: In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession and use of all drugs from heroin to marijuana.

What: However, drug use and possession is still illegal and criminal penalties will be applied to drug growers, dealers and traffickers.

This means: If a person is found with less than a 10-day supply of any drug, the person is sent to a three-person Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction.

So what: Treatment has increased, drug overdose deaths have decreased and there are fewer new HIV diagnoses among drug users. However, Dr. Joao Goulao, the architect of Portugal’s decriminalization policy, has said: “It’s very difficult to identify a causal link between decriminalization by itself and the positive tendencies we have seen.”


When: On December 20, 2013 Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize and regulate marijuana.

What: Drug consumption has never been a crime in Uruguay, but every aspect of cannabis production, sale, possession and consumption of cannabis is now regulated and controlled by the state.

This means: Users can grow their own or buy their cannabis from pharmacies, the Ministry of Health or as members of a cannabis club.

So what: It’s hoped the new system will give the state more opportunity to control supply and demand.


When: For 40+ years, authorities have turned a blind eye to the possession of small quantities of soft drugs for personal use although possession is a criminal offence.

What: The police will seize more than five grams of cannabis/hash and five cannabis plants, but their owner will not be prosecuted.

What: Users may be arrested or ordered to pay a fine if using in certain areas.

This means: Although the sale of soft drugs is a criminal offence, in practice, coffee shops selling small quantities of soft drugs for consumer consumption on or off site will not be prosecuted.

So what: For decades, the Netherlands has enticed marijuana aficionados from around the world.

State of Colorado

When: Legalized marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012, allowed the commercial sale of marijuana to consumers on January 1, 2014.

What: A person must be 21 years of age and older to buy or use marijuana and can possess up to one ounce of marijuana at a time.

This means: It’s a felony to sell, give or share marijuana with anyone under 21. Legal charges and fines may result if anyone 21 and up has more than 1 ounce of marijuana.

So what: In 2016, Colorado’s recreational cannabis tax rate is 29%, dropping to 27% in July 2017. The medical rate will stay at 2.9%. In 2015, the state raked in US$113 million with $140 million in cannabis tax anticipated in 2016.

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