The United States and Canada may be friends and allies, but the two countries' approaches to the regulation of marijuana agriculture have not evolved in tandem. On the contrary, their respective paths toward legalization and regulation of marijuana agriculture are remarkably divergent. In the United States, where marijuana remains a federally prohibited and tightly-controlled substance, legalization and regulation have remained the province of state legislatures and their administrative agencies for decades. In Canada, a succession of court cases paving the way toward medicinal marijuana use has prompted the federal government to develop a national framework committed to "legalize, regulate, and restrict access" to marijuana.
Many jurisdictions attempting to regulate (or exploring the possibility of regulating) the marijuana industry struggle to address the first step in the supply chain agriculture. This essay will compare and contrast the experiences of the United States and Canada in the regulation of marijuana agriculture. It is evident that there is more than one regulatory approach that can provide a safe and sustainable product to consumers while promoting equity among farmers. Nonetheless, the trials and tribulations of pioneering governments can illuminate the pitfalls, consequences, and drawbacks policymakers are likely to encounter in the future. [excerpt]