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Legal Weed Goes on Sale in Canada

On Wednesday, Canadians were able to legally buy marijuana for recreational use. Each province has the authority to set limits on when and where cannabis is sold. There were long lines in many locations, and the biggest glitch so far is demand outstripping supply. The above picture is from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, where marijuana is being sold through the state-controlled liquor stores. The main joke is how the sales at the nearby McDonald's is going to soar.

By noon, the store on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal had a line that spanned two blocks



This picture was taken somewhere in Saskatchewan.

A T-rex showed up to lighten the mood in the line at Nova Cannabis in Edmonton, Alberta.

Only one store in British Columbia is selling pot, and that outlet in Kamloops only received their license the day before. BC residents can also order online. Officials believe lines will become shorter over time, although it may take a while for legal cannabis outlets to accurately estimate the inventory they need.  


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The Canadian Senate explicitly looked into this (one such story) and found no significant difference in accident rates. More recent news suggest a possible difference 5%(e.g. here), but they found no difference in fatalities. This is one of those situations where the numbers and effects get subtle, without getting into some of the studies on problems caused by people driving impaired because they need to hide from authorities instead of dealing with it (a big issue with underaged drinking).

Numbers aside, we as a society make choices all the time about whether it is better to let people do things at the cost of more accidents. We could also reduce risks of injuries from car accident by madating helmets for all driver's, but that is rarely popular and over the line for most.

I have no interest in using marijuana, even though I live in Canada now. But I am also not thrilled about the amount of money and manpower the government had used on criminalizing drugs, which causes quite a bit of harm itself without addressing actual problems leading to drug abuse. There are other options (e.g. Portugal's approach), and the always on going discussion of how society handles something that most people manage okay with while a subset has problems with abuse.
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I wasn't jumping to any conclusions. The statistics are showing an increase in car accidents in states in the US where "dope" is allowed. I also see occasional articles on kids and pets eating it and the bad consequences. It's a bit ironic that the same people who moan and groan about "BIG PHARMA" are the same ones promoting a mind altering substance. And this is also at the heels of a long but largely successful trend to eliminate cigarette smoking. Now we just have to have folks sparking up a joint? Bad move. No it's crazy.
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