The entire country of Canada is legalizing weed. What does that say about the U.S.?

The entire country of Canada is legalizing weed. What does that say about the U.S.?

VicesApril 21, 2016 By Isabelle Kohn

You know the feeling when your lame younger step-brother surpasses you on his rapid ascent to success? He was once a scrawny little dingus, but now, he's offering to help you pay your rent as his supermodel girlfriend, who is not at all interested in his money, gives him a hamstring massage?

That's the feeling many Americans are having with the realization that next year, the entire country of Canada will have legal weed.

The announcement came from Canada's Health Minister, who says legislation will be introduced next spring. Naturally, he dropped the news on 4/20, because Canada is fucking hilarious.

Canada's reason for recreational legalization is exactly the same as Colorado's was; because they believe it would fix a "failed system" and help remove the "criminal element" linked to the drug. The tax revenue Canada would rake in ain't bad either.

Even Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is behind the movement, campaigning last year on a promise to legalize and regulate recreational use countrywide. He's also said Canadians would benefit from analyzing the experiences of Colorado. Thanks, buddy!

Meanwhile, it's great that it's legal here in Colorado, and handful of other like-minded states, but still, as a country, we're light years behind Canada, and that's a little sad. As the most powerful, privileged country in the world — and one who purports to operate based around the freedom of its citizens — shouldn't we have beaten Canada to the punch on the pot issue?

We think so. After all, the U.S. has foiled every other plan another country has had to be the first at something. We beat Russia to the moon. We beat Germany to the nuclear bomb.

Yet when it comes to pot (and a variety of other social issues), we're bringing up the middle of the pack.

To be fair, despite being made mostly of ice and bears, Canada is, and always has been, a much more progressive place than the U.S. in a number of ways.

They've had socialized healthcare forever. Same sex marriage has been legal there for over a decade. It's the 14th healthiest country in the world (the U.S. is #33). Higher education is miles more affordable. They even created Drake. So, it makes sense for their own trajectory that they'd legalize weed.

But what does that say about us?

Something in our system is broken if can't go about weed legalization with the same universal mentality other countries like Canada and Uruguay (the first country ever to legalize pot) have. Doing this thing state-by-state is creating a regulation nightmare in which every state's idiosyncratic marijuana legislation and regulatory systems clash with one another — and people are expected to know the rules of each. In this way, piecemeal legalization invites more opportunity to break the law, as federal legalization would ostensibly create just one set of rules all states were required to follow. Hello interstate trafficking!

Not only that, but widely varying levels of legalization mean that each states holds slightly different beliefs about weed that they get from slightly different information. One state's legislators may come across a study that says marijuana is dangerous for developing brains and ban it in his jurisdiction, while another state legislator might be presented with a CBD-based drug that treats epilepsy and push for legalization and limited use among children. Let that happen 50 times in 50 states, and you've got a situation in which there is no universal truth about pot. And that's confusing for everyone.

Of course, it's not so easy to adopt Canada's unified mind frame of federal legalization in the U.S. We're attached via some sort of unbreakable umbilical cord to the notion that states are self-governing and have their own unique systems; that's just the way we're set up. Plus, with 40 more states than Canada has (they've got 10 providences) and nearly 10 times the population, the U.S. is much more difficult to unify than say, a country whose entire population could fit inside California.

But just because something's not easy doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do it. Canada is a pretty prime example of that, and it wouldn't hurt our federal government to take notes from our icy, high neighbors to the north.