New Brunswick

STU criminology prof gathers research on effects of pot legalization

As the one-year anniversary of the legalization of cannabis approaches, a St. Thomas University professor is looking at the effects the move has had on society.

Professor says other jurisdictions looking to Canada as an example

Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, will be one of the guest editors of a Journal of Canadian Studies issue devoted to cannabis. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

As the one-year anniversary of the legalization of cannabis approaches, a St. Thomas University professor is looking at the effects the move has had on society.

Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor, wants to know how legalization of the drug has affected different facets of Canadian society.

He said many aspects of the Canadian experience with legalization are worth studying, and many jurisdictions are paying attention.

"While Canada is not the first to legalize cannabis, it is sort of trending and a lot of countries now are looking to Canada to see 'OK, how is this going to happen?'" said Boudreau.

"A lot of eyes are on this country, so why not start turning out some research to see what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong?"

Boudreau is working with Sarah Hamill, a professor at Trinity College in Dublin, on the project.

The duo have sent out a call for papers, looking for researchers to contribute to a special issue of the Journal of Canadian Studies devoted to cannabis in Canada.

They will serve as guest editors for the journal, which will publish the cannabis edition in spring 2021. 

Cannabis was legalized for recreational consumption on Oct. 17 last year.

Since then, cannabis has been available legally in 20 Cannabis NB stores in the province and through the mail.

Boudreau said it's important to study the early impacts of legalization, even if the findings are discredited by subsequent studies.

"In five years time, what we produce from this project people may say 'They got it really wrong,' but that's OK too because you learn from those mistakes and you learn from that research," said Boudreau. 

"What we're going to try not to do too much of is predict and look into the future because sometimes that's difficult to do unless we have solid evidence."  

Possible topics

Boudreau said the journal issue will look at many aspects of the legalization of cannabis.

Possible topics listed in the call for papers include the effect of legalization on the black market, whether legalization of cannabis will lead to other drugs being decriminalized, whether non-users will start using cannabis now that it's legal, and Indigenous communities and legalization.

One area Boudreau would like to study is how the drug is distributed, and the arguments about the Crown corporation versus the private business model.

"Places like New Brunswick are struggling with how do you sell this product and how do you make a profit," said Boudreau.

"It was never intended to make a profit. If you look back to the original task force that the federal government struck, they never said in there that that the sale of cannabis should lead to a profit for the provinces."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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