The government of Canada passed a law making marijuana legal for both recreational and medical use on 17th October, 2018. These laws come after a long road of criminality and stigma to individuals who believe there was nothing wrong with indulging in this activity ( Ferreras, 2018). Although there have been some who believe that the government should consider legalizing all drugs, polls show that the majority of the Canadian population do not support this view (Ferreras, 2018). The legalization of Cannabis in Canada can be examined through many theoretical perspectives within the field of sociology. These different perspectives can give a different insight into how this law was able to be passed in Canada.
Karl Marx believed that in society there exist a persistent class struggle between the rich and the poor (SOC216, January 15). He referred to the distant classes as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie referring to those who own the means of production and the proletariat in relation to the individuals who do not own any means of production and have no control in society. Marx further suggests that the bourgeoisie use the law to exploit the proletariat and that the proletariat has no means of protecting themselves due to their economic and social disadvantages.
Crawley (2018) states that the Ontario pot market is 1.6 to2.3 billion dollars. The report goes on to say that the most recent Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey stated that 3.6 million people aged 15 and over, used cannabis which reflects about 12 percent of the populations. These numbers suggest a huge opportunity for those who own the means of production to make more money. The aim of legalization is to eliminate the illegal market of marijuana sell and in doing so, research shows that 55 percent of consumers are expecting to a higher price for the drug (Deloitte, 2018). All of this amounts to the ruling class making benefitting because they own the means of production. According to the Marxian theory, marijuana become legal in Canada because the research suggested that there was money to be made by legalizing the drug. In other ways, there were a large number of people who were already using the drug and those people would be willing to pay a premium price for it when it became legal (Deloitte, 2018).
The Durkheim perspective believes that there is a consensus about what are the norms within a society. He referred to this as the collective conscience ( SOC216, January 25). He states that for society to function that the society must function as a whole or have social solidarity. Durkheim believes that laws are a form of social solidarity because it sets the guidelines for all member to follow. Also, members of society have an opportunity to become more bonded with one another when they oppose those who go against the laws set in place.
From a Durkheim perspective, the use of cannabis should be legalized in Canada. The views of Canadians in regards to the use of marijuana seems to be changing from what there were in the past. Marijuana has been legal for medical use since 2001 and since then the numbers have grown from 100 users to 200,00 in 2017 ( Cox, 2018). Cox (2018) also report that more than half of the population have admitted to using the drug illegally. This shows that the collective conscience about marijuana has changed and the topic is no longer considered distasteful. This shows that marijuana use no longer goes against the social solidarity of the society because the majority of the population seem to be open to the idea of the drug.
Furthermore, marijuana is legal for recreational use in Canada it does not mean that there will be free-range of the drug available for all. There are still many regulations in place for who can use it, where and at what times. These new regulations are an opportunity for Canadians to experience social solidarity in ensuring these rules are followed. For example, it is illegal to sell to minors and to drive while under the influence of marijuana ( Cox, 2018). These laws come about from the collective conscience of the society and enforcing them to increase social solidarity and maintain social order. Durkheim would advocate for the legalization of marijuana because Canadians no longer view marijuana negatively and legalizing the drug still presents opportunities for social solidarity.
Legal consciousness refers to ideas regarding the law which assists individuals in creating, shaping and making sense of interactions ( SOC216, February 5). While researching this particular topic, it is easy to come to the conclusion that though a large number of Canadian may be pro-legalization of marijuana there are still some differing opinions in regards to this matter. These differing opinions are referred to as legal consciousness. The research shows that some individuals are pro-legalization while others disagree and believe in the role of the law in regulating the marijuana market. Israel (2018) gives a pretty significant overview of the multiplicity of differing opinions on the legalization of marijuana. The comment section of this articles shows that some of the concerns in regards to the legalization of marijuana of that they are a gateway for the youth, the harm it can pose to children through the riskless use by adults, government exploitation, drug abuse and the health ramifications (Israel, 2018).
It can be deduced that these varying opinions stem from the different lives and backgrounds of the individuals who are leaving these comments. Based on these factors it would seem that the different life experiences of these individuals may be the driving force behind their particular objections to the legalization of marijuana use. It can also be stated that intersectionality has a great impact on the different standpoints and comprehensions of the law. Intersectionality which refers to the ways an individual’s gender, race, class, and ethnicity are interconnected together to form a whole.
The use of marijuana for recreational use has been legalized in Canada and different sociological perspectives have different insights to offer in regards to how this comes about. Marx tells us this was a means for the ruling class to gain more power and control over the working class, Durkheim states that this will bring about increased social solidarity due to the changing views on marijuana use and lastly legal consciousness shows us that everyone has a different opinion on the matter regard of it is legal or not.
- Cox, C. (2018). The Canadian Cannabis Act legalizes and regulates recreational cannabis use in 2018. Health Policy, 122(3), 205-209.. https://www-sciencedirect-com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/science/article/pii/S016885101830023X
- Crawley, Mike. 2018. “Marijuana economics: predicting Ontario’s legal pot market.” CBC News. canada/toronto/marijuana-ontario-price-market-sales-1.4298311">http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/marijuana-ontario-price-market-sales-1.4298311
- Deloitte 2018. Cannabis Report https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ca/Documents/consulting/ca-cannabis-2018-report-en.PDF
- Ferreras, Jesse. 2018. “Pot is legal, but that doesn’t mean Canadians think other drugs should be: Ipsos poll” canada-legalize-all-drugs-marijuana/">https://globalnews.ca/news/4561760/canada-legalize-all-drugs-marijuana/