If Canada’s new government chooses to legalize marijuana beyond medical use then it should get into the business of controlling its supply and sale to prevent the rise of a “Big Cannabis,” addiction specialists say.

Cannabis policy could be an issue ahead of October’s federal election. The governing Conservative party favours the status quo, the competing Liberals seek to legalize, regulate and tax, and the New Democrats support decriminalization. The Green Party has said it would legalize and tax marijuana.

In a commentary published in Monday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, addiction doctors describe the negative aspects of prohibiting cannabis use, such as fuelling the illegal drug trade and the high costs and harms associated with policing and prosecuting people.

“We’re hoping to provide some direction to policy-makers in Canada to encourage them to rethink their current policies around cannabis, to move away from prohibition because it doesn’t work and has a lot of harms associated with it,” Dr. Sheryl Spithoff, a family physician and addiction doctor at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and one of the coauthors of the paper, said in an interview.

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