Daniel Leblanc reports on medical marijuana producers’ lobbying to convince the federal government that their companies are best positioned to supply marijuana once it is legalized. In an associated January 13 article entitled Pot entrepreneur joins rush to open shops in hot Toronto market Mike Hager reports on the other side of that equation, profiling an illegal supplier in Vancouver who is attempting to open equally illegal marijuana dispensaries in Toronto with the goal of having his distribution network set up in readiness.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, current events, health, law

Key Question to Explore:

  • When marijuana is legalized, how should its production and distribution be controlled?

New Terminology:

Lobbying, franchises, pot, THC, CBD, cannabis, black market

Materials Needed:

Globe articles and Internet (if deemed appropriate)

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The Liberal Government has announced that it will legalize and control the distribution of marijuana for recreational purposes. It already is legal for approved Canadians to purchase marijuana for medical purposes, but they must obtain the drug via Canada Post from one of 27 licensed producers. The latter are hoping to become the sole source of legal marijuana—recreational and medicinal—and they are lobbying the government to that end. However, a vast and growing network of illegal dispensaries, especially in British Columbia, are just as keen to benefit from legalization and they are quickly moving into the larger new markets, such as Toronto.

The question of legalizing and controlling the sale, use and distribution of marijuana is currently being studied by the government and nothing concrete has yet been announced. The issues surrounding legalization are complex and students can benefit from exploring them. In this lesson, working in groups, students will read the two articles and then devise their own suggested regulatory framework for legalization.

Action (lesson plan and task):

This lesson would likely be most appropriate for senior students. Engage them in a short discussion about the proposed legalization of marijuana.

These questions or prompts could help spark the class discussion:

  • Is the use of marijuana legal in Canada? (Yes. But for medicinal purposes only)
  • If you are a licensed medical marijuana user, what is the only legal way for you to buy marijuana? (From a federally-licensed producer)
  • How many Canadians, approximately, do you think are currently medical-marijuana users? (About 500,000)
  • How many people do you think use marijuana, occasionally or regularly, for recreational purposes? (Answers will vary)
  • What is the current federal government’s position on the legalization and control of recreational marijuana? (It has promised to legalize and control the use of marijuana)

Continue the discussion as you choose, but allow about a half-hour for students to complete the following assignment, working in groups:

Read the two articles aloud to your group and discuss as necessary to ensure that everyone understands the terms and issues.

Using information from the articles, as well as your own opinions on the subject, devise a basic regulatory framework for the legalization of marijuana. Address the following questions and tasks and give reasons for your response to each. Be prepared to present your answers and reasons in a short oral presentation to class:

  • Who should be allowed to produce and sell marijuana?
  • Should the quality and purity of marijuana be controlled and if so, how?
  • When marijuana is legalized, if the price is higher than it was when it was illegal, do you think consumers will pay the higher price or will they continue to use the same illegal sources as they always have?
  • How might the latter question affect the profits of the current medical marijuana producers?
  • At what age should a Canadian be allowed to purchase and consume marijuana?
  • Should Canadians of legal age, as per the previous question, be able to grow marijuana for their own purposes? If so, how many plants?
  • Should marijuana smoking be allowed in public places, such as parks, on the sidewalk, or anywhere where tobacco smoking is allowed?
  • Should the sale and consumption of marijuana in other forms, such as food products, be allowed?
  • Who should determine the price of marijuana and what would be a reasonable price?
  • The government has said it would tax marijuana. How much tax should be applied? Should it be taxed the same way as alcohol and tobacco?

Bonus questions:

  • There is currently no way other than blood tests to determine the presence of marijuana in people’s bodies. What would you do to ensure that marijuana users do not put others at risk by driving a vehicle, operating heavy equipment, or undertaking any other activity that could endanger public safety?
  • If it is not known what level of marijuana intoxication causes impairment, how would you control its use by drivers of vehicles?
  • When marijuana is legalized, do you think it will lead to more use by young people, less or about the same?
  • Finally, when you see the word “pot” in the article, what, if anything does it tell you about the age of the person who wrote the piece? What are some other names for marijuana and what is the most common name used by your age group, if any?

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Students report and explain their work to the whole class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • Students can describe and explain the issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana.

Confirming Activity:

  • Consider having students follow the government’s progress toward legalization and report to class.