The Politics of Cannabis Legalization

Part III of WRGreens Cannabis Legalization Series

After 92 years of prohibition, the legality of Cannabis finally became a mainstream Canadian federal election issue in 2015.

The Conservative position was to toughen the laws.

The NDP Platform [Download PDF format: 5.1MB 81 colour pages] promised decriminalization immediately on forming government.  Recreational users could still be fined, but would no longer get a criminal record.

The federal Green Party platform promised legalization instead of decriminalization.

Ending the war on drugs

“Between 2008 and 2011, according to the Department of Justice, Canada spent $311 million targeting illicit drugs, with a majority of that money going to law enforcement. Most of that was for the ‘war’ against cannabis (marijuana). Marijuana prohibition is also prohibitively costly in other ways, including criminalizing youth and fostering organized crime. Cannabis prohibition, which has gone on for decades, has utterly failed and has not led to reduced drug use in Canada.

“After analyzing the recommendation of the Canadian Senate’s 2002 Special Committee on Drugs and the examples of strategies used by some European countries, the Green Party of Canada has come to the conclusion that it is time to legalize the adult use of marijuana. Furthermore, the Greens believe that drug addictions should be treated as a health problem, not as criminal offences.

“Green Party MPs will:

  • Legalize marijuana by removing marijuana from the drug schedule;
  • Create a regulatory framework for the safe production of marijuana by small, independent growers;
  • Develop a taxation rate for marijuana similar to that of tobacco;
  • Establish the sale of marijuana to adults for medicinal or personal use through licensed distribution outlets;
  • Educate the public about the health threats of marijuana, tobacco, and other drug use;
  • Launch a public consultation on the decriminalization of illicit drugs, considering the current high costs of the law enforcement effort;
  • Provide increased funding to safe injection sites, treatment facilities, and addict rehabilitation.

Like the Green party, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.promised Legalization, although not in quite the same way :

“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.

“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.

“Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.

“To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.

“We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.

“We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.”

2015 Liberal Platform Online: Real Change: Marijuana (download the PDF: 8.0 MB 88 colour pages of the entire 2015 Liberal Platform)

“strategic” voting

The 2015 winner in our winner-take-all system was the Liberal Party, whose plan was to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

Making Law

It is possible for anyone to follow the process of creating the law online.

Anyone can read the draft legislation:

Third Reading version of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

Download the 3rd Reading version PDF 1.4MB 148 pages

Follow what’s being said in Parliament about Bill C-45 on Open Parliament

Bill C-45 was introduced to the House of Commons by the Liberal Government, you can follow the process from introduction to Royal Assent at LegisInfo

Amendments to the legislation will go through the Standing Committee on Health HESA

Read all the briefs & testimony (if you use non-free software) watch the committee meeting video on ParlVu 

HESA COMMITTEE REPORT

Consultation

On November 21st, 2017 the Health Canada branch of the Justin Trudeau Government began a public consultation that will be open until January 19th, 2018. One might think the Government would undertake its public consultation before actually drafting legislation.  A cynical citizen might suspect such a backward agenda might indicate the consultation was purely for show.  An optimistic Canadian might think better late than never.

Canadians can participate in the Consultation on the Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis.

Rather than forming Cannabis policy based on what Canadians want, the consultation seeks feedback on its PROPOSED APPROACH TO THE REGULATION OF CANNABIS (which can also be downloaded in PDF format, 389 KB, 75 pages.)

Infographic: Supply chain for the commercial production and sale of cannabisThe Eyolfson Liberal Party website summarizes the proposed approach:

On packaging, we are proposing:

  • to make all products tamper-evident and child-resistant;
  • to limit the use of colours and graphics that would appeal to youth; and
  • to include mandatory health warnings similar to those on tobacco products

On licences, permits and authorizations, we are proposing to put in place a system that would:

  • enable a diverse, competitive legal industry that would include both large and small players;
  • reduce the risk that organized crime would infiltrate the legal industry; and
  • make sure that cannabis products meet high-quality standards.

and offers more background links including:

Infographic: Supply chain for the commercial production and sale of cannabis

Download the PDF format, 1.2 MB, 1 page

Proposed requirements for cultivation, processing, and federal sale licences

Download the PDF format, 182 KB, 1 page

Infographic: Proposed requirements for cultivation, processing, and federal sale licences


The different provinces are taking different approaches as to how they will implement cannabis legalization. Emery: Reefer monopoly madness – government doesn’t want to legalize pot, but DOES want to profit from it

“The Liberal’s big government ‘lets benefit political insiders’ approach to things just doesn’t make sense.”
— Mike Schreiner, Leader, Green Party of Ontario

The Provincial Green Party of Ontario opposes Monopolized Marijuana

To legalize marijuana sales in Ontario, the GPO supports:
✅ Regulating and licensing small businesses and dispensaries to sell marijuana in a safe and controlled way
✅ Ensuring tax revenues from marijuana sales are used to fund education, mental health and addiction programs
✅ Creating more local jobs and boosting prosperity by supporting small businesses

But the Green Party is not in charge.

Canadian Cannabis Crackdown

Because cannabis was illegal before any sort of scientific testing was done, there has been precious little modern scientific study of the substance.  What little study there has been suggests negative effects of cannabis are less harmful than many other substances that can be purchased openly and legally by anyone.  Like aspirin. People can kill themselves with aspirin.  But it is physically impossible for anyone to kill themselves with cannabis.

The worst health risks with cannabis centre around the fact that it is most often smoked in combination with tobacco, and we now know tobacco is hazardous to our health.  And yet the Canadian Government only allowed patients access to edibles after another Supreme Court challenge.

We believe, however, that the continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself or the regulated marketing of the substance. In addition, we believe that the continued criminalization of cannabis undermines the fundamental values set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and confirmed in the history of a country based on diversity and tolerance.
— Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs (2002) 
REPORT OF THE SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ILLEGAL DRUGS

And yet the Canadian Government promising cannabis legalization has increased it’s war on cannabis even more.  They are cracking down on cannabis at a frantic pace in the lead up to legalization.

This is not right.

Who profits?

 “I see legalizing [marijuana] or putting it in shops as trying to normalize narcotics, when the truth is there is nothing normal about it. It’s a mind-altering drug that causes impairments and like cigarettes is not healthy.”

Fantino says he understands the enticement of marijuana. It’s a new cash frontier where many people, including many former police officers and politicians, could get in on the ground floor. This helps explain why the marijuana lobby is so opposed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Trudeau might be their best chance to move this fight forward. With Harper, it’s dead.

“There’s a lot of money in it,” Fantino said. “Big money.”

He said he was offered “to fall in with a company” that wanted to pay him very well to simply lend his name to it.

Not a chance. “I would never do it.”

—Toronto Sun: Legal pot would be boon for organized crime: Fantino (October 16, 2015)

Julian Fantino, who once compared weed to murder, defends opening medical marijuana business

@JodieEmery Following Following @JodieEmery More Unfairness. Thousands of peaceful people continue to suffer arrest, jail, criminal records, exclusion for pot — while cops & politicians who opposed legalization & ruined lives with the law are cashing in on legal weed, with no apology. Here’s a list of their names & companies.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

QUOTATION Jodie Emery red CCby editor Jeremiah Vandermeer-ctv


Personal note:

I urge every Canadian to participate in the government’s consultation, even those— especially those— like me, who have no personal connection with cannabis.

Regards,
Laurel Russwurm

p.s. Jodie and Marc Emery are facing a massive fine as a direct result of their cannabis activism. If you wish to support their work, you can do so at the Marc and Jodie Emery Support gofundme Page


Cannabis Canada flag
WRGreens Cannabis Legalization Series

Go back to Part II: “The Road to Legalization”

Go back To Part I: “Why is Cannabis Illegal”


CREDITS

Canadian Canabis graphic created from Cannabis Chemistry art by Kyrnos with a CC0 dedication to the Public Domain on Pixabay

Quotation from “Cannabis Culture dispensaries: What I did, and why” by Jodie Emery ~ Photograph by Cannabis Culture editor Jeremiah Vandermeer, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

The List of Law Enforcement, Politicians and Public Servants compiled by Jodie Emery

Special thanks to @vansopinion8ted for the excellent tip.

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