Canada has become the second country in the world to legalise cannabis for recreational use.
Retailers have already begun selling marijuana on the high streets, with Canadians queueing overnight to be among the first to buy the potent drug.
It was claimed legalisation would curb black market distribution, but hundreds of shops continue to operate without a licence and the police have indicated that policing marijuana will not be a primary concern for them.
British Columbia’s Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth urged caution, saying: “Legalisation of cannabis is the largest public policy shift this country has experienced in the past five decades”.
“I don’t think that when the federal government decided to legalise marijuana it thought through all of the implications.”
The Canadian Medical Association Journal also hit out at the Canadian Government, calling the plan an “uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”
Even legalisation advocate Bernard Le Foll, a specialist in addiction at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, had concerns that the public have not been sufficiently informed about the effects of marijuana.
He said: “Cannabis is not a benign substance. There is a clear risk of addiction”.
He added: “It took decades for the public to understand the risks of cigarettes, and the legalisation of cannabis has taken place only over a few years.”