(South Korean and Japanese citizens will not be allowed to smoke marijuana in Canada, even though it is legal here)
Marijuana, or weed, was legalized in Canada, as of October 17, 2018. Far from the most controversial legislation is has passed since getting elected in 2015. While the substance will for now still be regulated, for all practical purposes it is completely legal. A number of developments from this are happening.
First, is that the Canadian government intends to make it easier to apply for a pardon for those with a pot conviction. This similar to prior moves years ago which pardoned gays and lesbians for consensual sexual acts.
Second, it remains to be seen how the economy will be effected by this legislation. There has been widespread speculation that it will boost economic growth. The details are outside the scope of this article, though more information is coming available.
Third, the United States says it intends to ban those who smoke cannabis, or even those who invest in the product, such as stock or bond holders. While the U.S. does have the right to refuse entry to anyone it wishes, this does raise 2 interesting questions: (a) how would Border Control even find out; (b) does it infringe on citizens doing lawful activity abroad? In later versions of the story, the U.S. is said to be backing off on that proposal — at least for now.
Fourth, and probably the most interesting here is that South Korea has formally declared that any of its citizens who smoke weed may be arrested. This applies even in Canada, where the act itself is legal. South Korean citizens are subjected to its laws regardless of where they are in the world. Japan has done the same, warning citizens that they may be subjected to home laws even while abroad.
As an aside, it would be interesting to know how the officials would ever learn about it. However, people today do brag about just about everything online. Also, given the distance, bringing witnesses for a criminal trial may prove difficult.
Furthermore, could a Korean or Japanese national smoke weed, and then claim asylum here, on grounds that they are being persecuted? This sounds absurd, but not outside the realm of possibility.
The Japanese and South Korea model stand in stark contrast to Canadian, American, and other Western nations, who oblige their citizens to follow the laws of wherever they happen to be at that time.
Fifth, and also worth noting, Russia has condemned the move as hypocritical. The Russian government says that legalization flies in the face of several anti-narcotic treaties, and does and end run around those agreements. Canada was a party to the following:
CLICK HERE, for the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
CLICK HERE, for the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
CLICK HERE, for the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
CLICK HERE, for the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
Russia has a valid point. The legalization push by the Trudeau government “will” undoubtedly make anti-drug matters more complicated. After all, how committed can Canada be to fighting the marijuana trade considering the substance is legal here?
The October 17 legalization will bring a number of challenges both here and abroad. Too early to say where things will go, but there will almost certainly be a followup article on at least one of these points.