Differing Approaches to Looming Cannabis Legality Across North America

Differing Approaches to Looming Cannabis Legality Across North America

There's no doubt that attitudes regarding marijuana use – particularly when compared to the consumption of numerous other narcotics – have experienced significant changes in the last decade in the U.S. and Canada. One need only note the fact that eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia have made marijuana and cannabis products legal for recreational purposes, and more than a dozen others permit medical cannabis use.

"Strict regulations surround the legality of marijuana and cannabis products in the U.S. and Canada."

Yet discrepancies between state and federal laws complicate these processes, leading to some worry among those hoping to enter the high-risk, high-reward cannabis industry. Meanwhile, in Canada, the federal government is dealing with applications from prospective marijuana proprietors and preparing regulations for summer 2018, when the drug will become broadly permissible for recreational use throughout the nation. It will behoove hopeful sellers of legal cannabis to carefully review the issues affecting them the most. They can also adopt techniques and equipment – including high-end label printers – to assist their efforts to observe all germane regulations.

Canadian Government Increases Pace of Cannabis Producer Approval

According to the Canadian Press, several hundred applicants seeking licenses to sell cannabis products within the country are still waiting on approval, but the rate at which this endorsement is occurring has shot up dramatically since May 2017: At that time, Health Canada had issued only 44 licenses in the previous four years, when it first began the process upon the government's legalization of medical marijuana in 2013. Between then and January 2018, however, the department sped up the process to approve nearly 40 more cannabis dispensaries. 

Differing Approaches to Looming Cannabis Legality Across North AmericaRegulations governing legal cannabis use vary considerably between U.S. states and Canada.

Leaders within the Canadian cannabis industry still have some concerns regarding the way the government has released its licenses. Chief among these is the possibility of shortages: These could result when producers receive government approval but then don't have enough time to cultivate marijuana crops and prepare products for sale before full legalization arrives in July 2018. Vahan Ajamian, an analyst at Halifax- and Calgary-based research firm Beacon Securities Ltd., elaborated on this issue.

"Cannabis is still a Schedule I controlled substance under U.S. federal law."

"It might lessen the shortages in the first couple of months," Ajamian told the news provider. "But I still predict we will see shortages, sellouts – especially in provinces and areas that haven't locked down their supply."

Conflict between U.S. Federal and State Cannabis Regulations

As noted above, cannabis use is legal for medical and recreational use in more than half of the states in the U.S. – provided users and sellers observe strict regulations regarding that use to the letter. But it is still against federal law to smoke marijuana or consume any other cannabis-based items. The Drug Enforcement Agency, with support from the Department of Justice, classifies it as a Schedule I narcotic, with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." By contrast, many drugs causing the American opioid crisis, including oxycodone, methadone, Dilaudid and fentanyl, are Schedule II substances, with heroin the only opiate in Schedule I.

That fact drove certain elected officials, like Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, to urge restraint among federal authorities regarding marijuana enforcement within their states. According to the Haverhill Eagle Tribune, Baker said he hoped Massachusetts-based U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling would shift federal resources to combating illegal opiate sales, particularly fentanyl, a major contributor to opiate overdoses. However, Lelling issued a statement affirming his desire to follow federal laws instead and prosecute accordingly. Other U.S. attorneys, however, like Bob Troyer of Colorado, proclaimed they would only prosecute marijuana users or sellers directly involved in violent crime.

AG's Stance May Create Further Complications

The Associated Press reported that Attorney General Jefferson Sessions intends to implement an aggressive anti-marijuana enforcement strategy during 2018. This has long been a priority for the nation's top prosecutor as both an Alabama-based federal attorney and U.S. senator.

Sessions started by rescinding previous Justice Department guidance recommending federal authorities to limit marijuana enforcement by focusing strictly on violent dealers and those selling to young children. According to The Motley Fool, Sessions' ironclad stance is unlikely to change and could pose significant problems for the cannabis industry. 

This highlights the necessity of strict compliance to regulations by prospective marijuana business owners in Canada – or U.S. states that legalized it – and clear, comprehensive product labeling plays a major role in this task. DuraFast can readily provide sellers with high-performance label printers, as well as accessories ranging from ink and toner to label dispensers, via its American or Canadian web stores.

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