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How legal pot in Canada could benefit Washington state

The legalization of marijuana countrywide in Canada should decrease trafficking of the drug across the Washington state border, according to a recent report.
(JAN WOITAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The legalization of marijuana countrywide in Canada should decrease trafficking of the drug across the Washington state border.

That’s according to a recent report by the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University, which points to profitability being the primary reason there will be even less marijuana being smuggled over the border.

In theory, this will enable U.S. Border Patrol and Royal Canadian Mounted Police to dedicate resources to other illegal activities, including reducing the flow of other drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, the report states.

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On Oct. 17, Canada will become the second and largest country to legalize marijuana. Our neighbors to the north follow Uruguay, which launched legal sales in 2017.

Canada will stand in contrast with the United States, where marijuana is outlawed at the federal level, with states choosing to allow medical and/or recreational use for people 21 or older.

At least 109 marijuana shops are set to open in Canada.

Jason Givens, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says border officers typically encounter people attempting to bring in personal amounts of marijuana into Washington state on a daily basis.

However, there is much less marijuana being seized at the border these days.

According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the amount of marijuana seized at the borders decreased by more than half between 2015 and this summer. In 2015, 602,795 pounds of marijuana was seized at the borders. So far this year, 283,084 has been seized.

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Brandon Lee, consul general of Canada in Seattle, says legalization will improve public safety and public health. Underage use has been high, and this could help reduce that.

"We think we'll be able to close out the black market ... and because it will be regulated closely - the prices and access to both government-run and private stores - will allow us to monitor age of use," Lee said.

The minimum age to legally smoke marijuana will be 18, but the federal government is allowing each province and territory to decide how it will be sold and distributed.

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