The Road to Legalization

Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses.

Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.

Other plants were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that we now know as marijuana.

— Indica vs. Sativa: What’s The Difference?

Queen Victoria (photo by Bassano 1882)The active ingredient in many 19th century patent medicines was cannabis.

There’s even an urban legend that Queen Victoria was a user.

(Or maybe it was true.)

The war on drugs put an end to medicinal cannabis in Canada..

But pain management has always been critically important for the quality of life of many who have suffered injury or chronic illness.

Although Canadians can access a wide variety of drugs through a doctor’s prescription, there are many variables.  When it comes to medicine, one size does not fit all:

  • what works for some patients doesn’t work for others.
  • long term use can decrease the effectiveness of pain killers, and
  • addiction and other side effects can reduce a patient’s quality of life.

Even as the emerging 20th Century pharmaceutical industry exploded into a rainbow of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, analgesics and the like, not every patient or disease is adequately served by prescription medicines.

And so, illegal or not, in the latter part of the 20th Century, growing numbers of Canadians sought pain relief from cannabis.

Civil Disobedience

Compassion clubs came to Canada in the late 1990s, based on similar medicinal marijuana clubs in the United States. The goal of compassion clubs is to provide safe access to medicinal, or medical, marijuana when there is no government-sanctioned program, or when such a program is not effectively meeting the need.


Compassion clubs exist to provide medical marijuana to people in need, but not all their members are licensed by Health Canada. While the clubs usually have their own strict guidelines for membership and providing cannabis—for chronic conditions, most clubs require a doctor’s note confirming a patient’s condition; for some conditions, a doctor’s prescription may be required—this does not make unlicensed members’ use legal. So, fear of prosecution is still a concern.

Compassion club operations, in fact, are illegal under Canadian law.

Compassion Clubs: Working for health and liberty

TIincture of Cannabis IndicaAfter nearly a century of total Cannabis prohibition, on December 10th, 1997, Ontario Judge Patrick Sheppard ruled that the law prohibiting 42 year old Terry Parker’s use of marijuana to treat his epilepsy was unconstitutional.

The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the ruling and gave the federal government 12 months to make it right..

One day before the expiration of the court ordered time limit (July 30, 2001) the government implemented the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) (PDF). The MMAR created a framework that allowed (only) patients suffering from designated severe and extreme conditions to go through a lengthy and complicated application process that might result in a government license allowing them to possess and use marijuana legally.

Worse, the regulations failed to provide patients with any way to actually obtain a legal cannabis supply.  This serious deficiency resulted in a succession of court challenges that eventually resulted in amendments that allowed patients to:

  • purchase dried marijuana from a single government supplier, or
  • grow their own, or
  • select a grower to grow cannabis for them

Many patients found the quality of the Health Canada’s cannabis to be inferior to cannabis available through Compassion Clubs or even the black market.  The nonprofit BC Compassion Club (BCCCS)  was founded in 1997, and has built a good reputation using knowledge and expertise to help patients find the best strain to address their health needs.

“Most of the harm associated with cannabis is actually due to the act of combusting,” notes [Jay Leung,communications coordinator for the BCCCS]. He adds that BCCCS has vaporizers for their clients to use, which produce the same effects as smoking without the health risks. The club also provides non-smoking options such as cannabis-infused oils and butter, tinctures (cannabinoids are extracted into an alcohol or glycerine base, then dropped or sprayed orally) and a variety of baked goods. And the dispensary sells items such as the vaporizers, forest-friendly rolling papers, glass pipes and more, which help members consume cannabis safely and effectively.”

Compassion Clubs: Working for health and liberty

Although these clubs or dispensaries operate outside the law, they have provided medical marijuana in the form chosen by patients.  Medical evidence demonstrates the connection between smoking and cancer, so it’s not surprising patients might prefer not to smoke their medicine.

Her Majesty the Queen v. Owen Edward Smith


When police found large amounts of cannabis-infused olive oil and cookies in the apartment of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, Smith was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations.  At the time, Canadian Law only allowed patients to consume Medical Marijuana by smoking it in dried form in spite of numerous studies about the health risks associated with smoking.

Smith was acquitted in 2013  because  Mr. Justice Johnston found the Regulations that denied medical marijuana users any way to consume their medicine besides smoking to be arbitrary, unjustified and a breach of section 7 of the Charter.  The Province of BC appealed, and lost, and the Court of Appeal for BC ordered the federal Government to correct the law within a year.  The Harper Government chose instead to appeal Mr Smith’s successful constitutional challenge all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in January 2015.  In March the SCC upheld the ruling.

In 2014 the Harper Government changed the regulations, replacing the MMAR with Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) on April 1st, 2014.  The new regulations prohibited patients from growing their own, instead, they were required to purchase their supply of medicine from licensed commercial growers.

Legalization?

The 2015 federal election gave the Justin Trudeau Liberals a “majority” government with a mandate to legalize cannabis in Canada.  The new government placed the legalization file in the hands of rookie MP Bill Blair, better known as Toronto’s top cop during the infamous Toronto G20.  Understandably cannabis activists have not been reassured by this choice.

While there has been plenty of talk about the government commitment to legalization, more than 2 years into the government’s term, Canadians continue to be arrested for cannabis possession at alarming rates.

Since the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the R v Smith decision on edibles in 2015, it wasn’t surprising to see extensive consideration of cannabis edibles in the Government’s own Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. The surprise was that the first draft of the legislation that will eventually legalize cannabis for all Canadians originally excluded edibles from the 2018 legalization plans.

There was enough public pushback to convince the Standing Committee on Health to amend the draft legislation in October, 2017.  BILL C-45the Cannabis Act or, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, now intends to include edibles no later than 12 months after the law is enacted.  The frivolous 100-cm height limit on the four plants Canadians will be allowed to grow at home was also removed.

Edibles: Brownies and Caramel corn

Misinformation is dangerous.

Given that Cannabis was criminalized here without anything resembling scientific evidence, debate, or even any need for such a policy in 1923, Canada has undertaken little or no legitimate scientific study of the prohibited plant.  As a result, the scarcity of official empirical evidence frees opponents of legalization to make unfounded and often ridiculous claims in support of their own preconceived notions.

A a racist brochure created by Trellis Mental Health and Developmental Services somehow made its way to the information desk at the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Tweet by Melia Robinson: This is how much marijuana it would take to kill you — from @davidschmader's excellent book, Frightening tales without any basis in fact repeated over and over during the decades of Cannabis Prohibition are blindly accepted by some.  Sometimes even counsellors tell “friend-of-a-friend” stories— urban legends— about people dying from eating pot brownies.

There have even been cases like the one where a professional pathologist imagined someone died from smoking a joint. The reality is that there’s no evidence cannabis use has ever killed anyone.  On the contrary, the evidence we do have indicates such a thing is not possible.

“7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.

“8. At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.

“9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.”

Judge Francis L. Young Ruling: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law & Decision re: Medical Marijuana | USA DOJ DEA (1988)

Former sources of information once considered to be an authority in substance use are being questioned with good reason: “Reefer Madness” has taken on new forms to serve corporate special interests.  As legalization approaches, the need for credible education is desperate.

And still government sends mixed messages.

“If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice.”
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi

In spite of promises of legalization by July 2018, heavy handed law enforcement crack downs on grey market dispensaries are justified by the government because Cannabis is still illegal.

But the “offense of compassion” committed by medical marijuana dispensaries’ clearly has public support.  Justices tasked with sentencing the owners of these facilities are giving absolute discharges.

Producers Licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations have been recalling product mailed to patients.  It’s the users who are suffering most.  Unsurprisingly people seeking access through medical marijuana dispensaries are being pushed back into the black market.  What is the point of that?

Grey market dispensaries, like the Toronto Compassion Club, have been managing physician prescribed access to medical marijuana since 1997. The majority of public safety concerns stem from a lack of understanding of the values which created these grey markets in the first place.

Last summer, The Globe and Mail investigated products being supplied to patients at 9 dispensaries in Toronto. The results were not what most would expect from dispensaries denied access to professional quality testing. Fully two thirds (6 of 9) of the medical marijuana the Globe tested showed “contaminants were either not present or tested below the allowable limits set by Health Canada.”

Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto, told VICE she’s hoping there will be a constructive conversation about regulating recreational versus medical dispensaries instead of having knee-jerk policies put in place. Norml Canada declares that the criminal prohibition of the cultivation and use of cannabis is no longer the most suitable measure for protecting public health and welfare and preventing the diversion of drugs into illicit traffic.

Waterloo Region

The City of Kitchener has not been very responsive to those seeking permits to offer safe access to cannabis, or lounges for consumption. Dispensaries that had been operating within the region were threatened with fines. Some closed their doors, while others continued to supply patients until they were raided.

Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness (ACCA)

About five or six months ago, Cory Orr and Tony Millar, founders of Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness (ACCA), sparked some interest at 44 Gaukel. The two were referred to the Waterloo Region Small Business Center. They connected with small business advisor Rob Clement, who advocated on their behalf.  ACCA has been the first cannabis related business approved for a WRSBC grant.

ACCA believes that craft cannabis, like craft beer, has a place in the market; their primary goal is to educate the public, which includes the acknowledgement there is good and bad everywhere.

“Everyone wants it (a lounge), but no one wants their name on it.”
— Tony Millar

Court decisions continue to uphold patient rights, while the the Minister of Health claims the government needs more time to work on designing an appropriate regulatory system to develop and implement regulations. ACCA acknowledges information provided by Health Canada is updated regularly, and cite current publications in order to maintain credibility.

Professor David Hammond at the University of Waterloo, has been a great resource for ACCA, with his graduate and student supervision. Hammond, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health, focuses his research on chronic disease prevention and global health in the areas of tobacco control policy, health diets and obesity prevention, as well as harm reduction and drug policy. Professor Hammond is studying the effects of vaporizing cannabis, to better support students with related research interests in cannabis and harm reduction related research interests.

ACCA began hosting information sessions at UC Vape September 15th 2017.

Edible Awareness

The first information night was inspired by Lisa Campbell’s presentation to the Toronto Business Licensing Committee and R v Smith.

ACCA hosted guest speakers from Magical Butter and the Green Market, as well as Charlene Freedom, who discussed the topical application of cannabis products.

Extract Awareness

The second information night included live demonstrations with a hydraulic rosin press by Rosin Arts and a live ice water extraction using Bubble Bags. These presses and bags will potentially be made available for rental in the near future. Another partner, Blue River will be the supplier of terpenes. According to their website, Blue River “offers the widest selection of award winning full spectrum essential oils naturally derived from whole plant cultivars. Our prices are based on grade, yield, and availability. Our pure essential oil products are designed to be used as a diluent for aromatherapy and vaporization.”

Cannabis Lounges and Activism

Jodie EmeryACCA’S third installment of their ongoing mission to educate the public, drew some media attention. Jodie Emery went into detail about her tireless legalization efforts within political circles, while keeping Cannabis Culture Magazine alive following husband Marc Emery’s extradition.

Abi Roach reminisced about when she started renting out a vaporizer back in 2003, to people looking for a place to consume their cannabis. The Hotbox Cafe in Toronto is celebrating it’s 14th year in operation. In the evenings “Hot Box Afterdark” hosts music and special events after 7pm. The Afterdark promotes itself as a great alternative to the bar scene. Abi spoke about how people need to consider what they’re advocating against, and that people shouldn’t have to get their pot from bikers.

Canna Relief, a product that will soon to be on shelves at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, was available for sample. The CBD drink is a specially formulated supplement containing a synergistic blend of vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and 20mg of pure CO2 extracted CBD derived from hemp stalk and seed. CannaSafety are confident that CannaRelief will help you control and manage THC anxiety so that you can safely and therapeutically benefit from your personal medicine.

CannaRelief supplement bottle

Patients First “Action Plan for Heath Care” [download PDF] aims to bridge the gap for patients to Access, Connect, Inform, Protect.

“Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties’ submissions, I find Ms. Shaw’s evidence [as a representative of the dispensaries] to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access,”
—Justice Michael Phelan, Reasons for Judgment (February 2016) Allard decision [download PDF]

“Municipalities seem to want to help, but don’t want to put themselves at risk” said Millar.  Provinces are going to have to manage the regulatory aspects, but the proposed framework for new legislation does not leave room for the current market. On their website, the Liberal Party says “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars, along with a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, and a “robust” public awareness campaign.

Perspectives on Canadian Drug Policy (Volume 1) John Howard SocietyBecause there were no advocates for the treatment of drug users prior to the late 1950s, it was easy for enforcement-related interests to implement harsh anti-drug legislation. This also meant that although drug users were often thought of as “sick,” imprisonment was a priority over treatment (Blackwell 1988:163).

“In addition, because habitual drug use was associated mostly with Chinese immigrants, many Canadians felt they were “immune from the effects of harsh drug legislation” (Alexander 1990:32).”

PERSPECTIVES ON CANADIAN DRUG POLICY Volume 1 The John Howard Society of Canada [Download PDF]

Canadians deserve evidence based harm reduction strategies. Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness is working with front runners in the early stages of a legal market, to provide the most up to date information, and in the near future, a place where the culture can thrive. Safe consumption sites will help integrate the shift in consciousness, as stigma is replaced by awareness.

Part II of WRGreens Cannabis Legalization Series

Back To Part I


Credits

Cannabis Indica Marijuana graphic modified from Cannabis indica – young plant by Nikodem Nijaki released under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License via Wikipedia

Queen Victoria photograph by Alexander Bassano is a Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons

H. K. Mulford Co. Tincture of Cannabis Indica bottle (Digitally enhanced image by Laurel Russwurm) based on a photograph of an exhibit at The Herb Museum, Vancouver (fair use)

Smoking by Yurton released with a CC0 dedication to the Public Domain via Pixabay

Edibles: Brownies and Caramel Corn by Cannabis Culture released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License on Flickr

 tweeted image from David Schmader‘s book, “Weed“(Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Cory Orr and Tony Millar portraits via LinkedIn (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Marijuana Cookies by Eli Christman released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License on Flickr

Cannabis Oil publicity photo by PeaceNaturals  (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Jodie Emery (cropped) Photo by Jeremiah Vandermeer released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License on Flickr

CannaRelief publicity photo via CannaSafety (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

PERSPECTIVES ON CANADIAN DRUG POLICY Volume 1 The John Howard Society of Canada [Download PDF] (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

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

[edited by Laurel L. Russwurm]

 

 

Why is Cannabis Illegal?

Cannabis sativa by Otto Wilhelm Thomé

French pioneer apothecary Louis Hébert was the first European farmer in Canada. Cannabis Sativa, a plant known as “hemp,” was one of his crops.

The sails of sailing ships, canvas, rope, and linen were all manufactured from the rugged fibres of the hemp plant. As was the earliest known paper. Hemp dominated the paper trade until it was replaced by wood fibre in the 1800s.

Hemp stem showing fibers

When the Indian strain of Cannabis that had been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years became a popular ingredient in 19th Century Western medicine, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck “came up with the name Cannabis indica to distinguish Indian cannabis from European hemp.”

War On Drugs

There were no illegal drugs in Canada prior to the 20th Century.  Deputy Minister of Labour William Lyon MacKenzie King changed all that in 1908.

“On Sept. 7, 1907, the Asiatic Exclusion League of Vancouver went on a rampage though the city’s Chinatown and Little Tokyo. No one was killed, but there was considerable property damage.

“The Liberal government of Wilfrid Laurier sent William Lyon Mackenzie King, the country’s first deputy minister of labour, to investigate.”Among the many individuals who submitted claims for restitution were several Chinese opium dealers, which prompted King to study the opium trade in Vancouver.

“There were no laws then governing the use of opium or other drugs; and, in fact, during the 19th century, laudanum, a mixture of liquid opium and alcohol and highly addictive, was popular as a pain remedy.

“King was stunned by what he learned about the corrupting influence of opium, connected as it was with widespread notions that Chinese men used opium to exploit and sexually assault white women.”

— Winnipeg Free Press: Canada’s 100 year war on drugs

Asiatic Exclusion League Riot Aftermath
Boarded-up buildings in Chinatown after 1907 race riots, Carrall Street, Vancouver, BC

Rather than formulating policy to address Vancouver’s anti-immigrant racism, the Government based its first drug law, the Opium Act of 1908, on the Report by W. L. Mackenzie King, C.M.G., Deputy Minister of Labour, on “The Need for the Suppression of Opium Traffic in Canada.

A year later the Canadian Government instituted the first legislation to regulate the use of medicine to protect the public in The Proprietary or Patent Medicine Act (1909).  As an ingredient used in many such medicines, cannabis was regulated by this act.

The illicit opium smuggling that sprang up in answer to the Opium Act warranted a Royal Commission.  Its recommendations to:

  • make sale, possession & smoking illegal drugs separate offenses, and
  • increase the power of police search and seizure

were incorporated in the “Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and other Drugs” in 1911.

The institutional racism of the day was reflected by the segregation within the title of the act, meant to differentiate between illegal drugs used by Chinese (opium) and white users (cocaine and morphine).

The British influence

“While the Chinese were being blamed for bringing opium to Canada’s doorstep, it was the mighty British colonial empire that was harvesting, refining and selling the drug on a massive scale.

“The British controlled vast poppy fields in South Asia — and soon discovered that making opium in India and shipping it to China made for very profitable business.

“As the drug began to flood into China, wreaking havoc on the economy and society, Chinese authorities attempted to shut it down by boarding British ships and destroying opium shipments.

“The British army responded by arresting those responsible and seizing harbours, ports, and cities along China’s coast and up the Pearl River.”

— Drugs: What’s race got to do with it?

When William Lyon Mackenzie King became Prime Minister, the scope of his legal war on drugs continued to expand with the Narcotic Drugs Act Amendment Bill in 1923.   Part of the reason for this law was to combine the growing body of law dealing with illegal drugs into one. Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health) ~ Liberal ~ Mr. BELAND: There is a new drug in the schedule. Bill reported, read the third time and passed. | Topic: NARCOTIC DRUGS ACT AMENDMENT BILL

At the end of the third reading debate in April, Canada’s Health Minister, Henri Sévérin Béland announced, “There is a new drug in the schedule.”

There was no discussion, just that one sentence spoken in Parliament added Cannabis to the Schedule of Controlled Substances without even naming it aloud in Parliament.  (It was passed by the Senate without a word as well.)

There had been no mention of cannabis in the draft legislation (although it had been appended to one of the copies) but more importantly, it wasn’t a social issue when they made it illegal.  Most Canadians hadn’t even heard of the stuff (under any name).

Those who had, knew of it as “marahuana,” thanks to the sensational writings of Judge Emily Murphy (of Famous Five fame). Her series of articles about illegal drug use for Macleans Magazine published under the pseudonym “Janie Canuck” formed the basis of her book “The Black Candle.”  Taken as a whole, the racist dogwhistle Ms Murphy’s book was blowing warned of an international drug conspiracy to bring about the “downfall of the white race.”  Several of the photographs depict addicted white women consorting with men of colour to help drive home Ms Murphy’s race war narrative.

“One becomes especially disquieted — almost terrified — in face of these things, for it sometimes seems as if the white race lacks both the physical and moral stamina to protect itself, and that maybe the black and yellow races may yet obtain the ascendancy.”

—The Black Candle, Chapter XL “Black Smoke”

The incendiary book plied the reader with misinformation about of the dangers of “marahuana.”  Although hemp was grown in Canada, there was no actual evidence supporting Ms Murphy’s imaginings, although she had no shortage of specious “expert” testimony to present.

Charles A. Jones, the Chief of Police for the city, said in a recent letter that hashish, or Indian hemp, grows wild in Mexico but to raise this shrub in California constitutes a violation of the State Narcotic law. He says, “Persons’ using this narcotic, smoke the dried leaves of the plant, which has the effect of driving them completely insane. The addict loses all sense of moral responsibility. Addicts to this drug, while under its influence, are immune to pain, and could be severely injured Without having any realization of their condition. While in this condition they become raving maniacs and are liable to kill or indulge in any form of violence to other persons, using the most savage methods of cruelty without, as said before, any sense of moral responsibility.

“When coming from under the influence of this narcotic, these victims present the most horrible condition imaginable. They are dispossessed of their natural and normal will power, and their mentality is that of idiots. If this drug is indulged in to any great extent, it ends in the untimely death of its addict.

— The Black Candle, Chapter XXIII “Marahuana— A New Menace

Ms Murphy’s best seller is thought by some to have influenced the decision to quietly add Cannabis to the schedule a year later. First Vancouver Police Department patrol wagon

At the time they made it illegal, Cannabis was such a non-issue that:

“The first seizure of marijuana cigarettes occurred only in 1932, nine years after the law had passed (p. 182); the first four possession offences (it is not clear whether these were charges or convictions) occurred in 1937, 14 years after cannabis was criminalized (p. 599)

The Origins of Canada’s Cannabis Laws

No one really knows the “why” of it.   Racism was clearly a factor in Canada’s war on drugs, but the reality was that Marijuana didn’t become a social issue until long after Cannabis had been made illegal.  Although criminalization led to a handful of arrests here and there, marijuana arrests never exceeded 100 annually prior to the 1960s.  Some think the real reason Cannabis was added to the schedule was to eliminate the hemp industry, but something else to consider is that its inclusion in the schedule meant it could no longer be used for medicinal purposes in Canada, so pharmaceutical competition may have been the reason.

The maximum penalty for possession of small quantities was six months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a first offence.[26] Convictions for cannabis skyrocketed, from 25 convictions between 1930 and 1946, to 20 cases in 1962, to 2,300 cases in 1968, to 12,000 in 1972.[27] The Narcotics Control Act of 1961 increased maximum penalties to 14 years to life imprisonment.[28]

Wikipedia: Legal History of Cannabis in Canada

In 1961 Parliament replaced the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act with the Narcotic Control Act to be able to ratify the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs  (PDF)

Even though Cannabis still hadn’t become a big problem, its continued presence on the Schedule was supported by the Minister of National Health’s (now debunked) argument that it was a gateway drug,

The use of marijuana as a drug of addiction in Canada is fortunately not widespread. It, however, may well provide a stepping stone to addiction to heroin and here again cultivation of marijuana is prohibited except under licence.

— Jay Waldo Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare), Hansard

But by the mid-1960’s the recreational drug culture had become a social problem among Canadian youth.  Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government tasked Gerald Le Dain to look into it.  LeDain’s Royal Commission of Inquiry Into The Non-Medical Use of Drugs invested four years in an exhaustive study of the issue, even going so far as to interview John Lennon in December 1969.

Lennon’s testimony suggested flagrant government misinformation about the effects of marijuana led users to assume legitimate government warnings about the hazards of hard drugs were also unfounded propaganda. And indeed, the Le Dain Commission concluded that there was no scientific evidence warranting the criminalization of cannabis.

When the Le Dain Commission Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs was turned in, Pierre Trudeau chose to ignore its recommendations to decriminalize possession and cultivation for personal use, reduce penalties for trafficking, and decriminalize non-commercial sharing.

Marie-Andree Bertrand, writing for a minority view, recommended a policy of legal distribution of cannabis, that cannabis be removed from the Narcotic Control Act (since replaced by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) and that the provinces implement controls on possession and cultivation, similar to those governing the use of alcohol.[2]”

Wikiwand: Le Dain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs

Michel Trudeau

Some years later, former Prime Minister Trudeau’s youngest son Michel was charged with possession of marijuana, not long before his 1998 death in an avalanche.

Today’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a young man at a Vice Town Hall about his brother’s predicament:

“…he was charged with possession. When he got back home to Montreal my Dad said, ‘Okay, don’t worry about it.’ reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer, and was very confident that we were going to be able to make those charges go away.

“We were able to do that because we had resources, my Dad had a couple connections, and we were confident that my little brother wasn’t going to be saddled with a criminal record for life.”

— Five Things We Learned Interviewing Justin Trudeau About Weed” ~ Vice


Part I of WRGreens Cannabis Legalization Series

Ahead to Part II: “The Road to Legalization”


Image Credits

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) illustration by Otto Wilhelm Thomé public domain image circa 1885 via Wikimedia Commons

Hanfstengel (Hemp stalk fibre) Public Domain image by Natrij

William Lyon Mackenzie King public domain image from City of Toronto Archives

Boarded-up buildings in Chinatown after 1907 race riots, Carrall Street, Vancouver, BC Public Domain image shared by Vancouver Public Library

Henri Sévérin Béland Hansard quotation on the April 23, 1923 NARCOTIC DRUGS ACT AMENDMENT BILL Parliamentary debate, image reproduced from the University of Toronto’s LiPaD (Linked Parliamentary Data Project). Follow the entire discussion or any other historic Canadian Hansard Parliamentary Debate with LiPaD

The Black Candle” cover (and the whole book) via Internet Archive are in the Public Domain

First Vancouver Police Department patrol wagon Public Domain Image released by Vancouver Public Library Special Collections on Pinterest

Michel Trudeau photo by Kari Puchala (CP FILE PHOTO) used under the Fair Dealing exemption

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

Earth Month Plus

Here’s a sampling of things for Waterloo Region Greens to do in Earth Month and beyond.  (I’ll update the calendar later tonight)

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

2:00pm4:00pm
Kitchener-Conestoga
Michael Harris MPP Town Hall

Breslau Community Centre,
100 Andover Drive, Breslau
michael.harris@pc.ola.org
226.750.1731

Kitchener Public Library7:00pm–9:00 pm
U of W Sustainability lecture at Kitchener Public Library

KPL Central Branch,
85 Queen St N, Kitchener, Ontario
Canada N2H 2H1
http://kwpeace.ca/event/public-lecture-powershiftwr-transforming-energy-in-waterloo-region/?instance_id=3171


Thursday, April 20th, 2017

8:30am—1:00pm
Energize: Sustainable City Challenge

Sustainability Challenge at UofW
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada N2L 3G1
http://kwpeace.ca/event/energize-sustainable-city-challenge/?instance_id=3170

6:45pm—8:45pm
Special screening of the documentary COWSPIRACY & Talk

Kitchener Public Library, Central Branch
85 Queen Street North, Kitchener
Divest Waterloo/Citizens’ Climate Lobby Waterloo Region/Food Not Bombs/Climate Vegan
View map of library location
Bus Routes # 8 University – Fairview Park (View Route Map)
Please Register at EventBrite. This a FREE event but seating is limited
http://kwpeace.ca/event/cowspiracy-screening-and-talk/?instance_id=3224


Friday April 21, 2017

7pm—9pm
WRGreens Meet & Greet with Provincial Leader Mike Schreiner

TWB Cooperative Brewing, 300 Mill St., Kitchener
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is visiting Waterloo Region as part of his spring leader’s tour.
Come meet Mike, hang out with your fellow Greens, share your thoughts, and discuss the local issues that matter to you.
The meet-and-greet will end with a no-holds-barred live interview about beer regulation hosted by local comedian Michael Masurkevitch of We Are Millennials.
Invite your friends!

Saturday April 22nd, 2017 ~ EARTH DAY #EarthDay

8:30am—12 noon
Woolwich Community Clean Up

Please contact Ann for a location near you.  aroberts@woolwich.ca or 519 669-6027
http://calendar.woolwich.ca/Default/Detail/2017-04-22-Woolwich-Community-Clean-up-Day

9:00am—12 noon
Cambridge Community Clean Up: City Green Booths Open

Pick up your supplies from the City Green Booth nearest you and do your clean up when it’s convenient for you.

Cambridge City Green booth locations :
1. Holiday Inn Drive Tim Hortons parking lot
2. Galt Arena Gardens
3. St. Benedicts/Clemens Mill Library Branch
4. Victoria Park (Salisbury Ave corner of the park just before Highland Public School)
5. Monsignor Doyle Secondary School
https://www.meetup.com/Cambridge-City-Green/events/237639111/

12:30pm
March For Science

Waterloo Town Square
75 King Street South, Waterloo ON


Saturday April 29th, 2017

12:00 Noon
People’s Climate March Ottawa

Confederation Park• Laurier Ave W & Elgin St, Ottawa, Canada K1P 5J2
https://actionnetwork.org/events/ottawa-peoples-climate-march


Tuesday May 2nd, 2017

6:30pm
Waterloo Green Party of Canada EDA AGM

Right before the Pub Night
TWB Cooperative Brewing,
300 Mill St., Kitchener
https://www.facebook.com/events/205769696588910

7:00pm—9:00pm
Waterloo Greens Pub Night: Discuss International Trade Deals

TWB Cooperative Brewing,
300 Mill St., Kitchener
Would “developing” countries be better or worse off without free trade?
What benefits has NAFTA brought to Canadian workers?
Learn and discuss questions like these with our international trade learning community. Join us for some beer and casual conversation about this thorny topic.
* The event is free, purchase of beer is not neccessary, and the space is wheelchair accessible. No food available for purchase but feel free to bring your own. If you have any questions, please email the organizer, Julia Gogoleva, at julia.gogoleva@gmail.com.

Thursday May 11th, 2017

7:00pm—9:00pm
The Case for Divesting from Fossil Fuels in Canada

CIGI
67 Erb St W
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2

Divest Waterloo/CIGI to host an evening with Jeff Rubin, a world-leading energy expert and former chief economist at CIBC World Markets. As a senior fellow CIGI, Jeff has written extensively on the future of the Canadian oil sands and the financial imperative to shift our economy away from fossil fuel dependence. Jeff will be speaking at CIGI to address pension fund managers, members of the finance and insurance industries, and the general public about the financial case for divesting from fuels.

http://kwpeace.ca/event/the-case-for-divesting-from-fossil-fuels-in-canada/?instance_id=3216


Saturday June 3rd, 2017

1:30pm—4:30pm
Alliance Against Poverty Free Transit for Low Income Individuals – Community Forum

in the fully-accessible downstairs hall of Historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
137 Queen Street South, Kitchener, Ontario N2G 1W2
Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1889874274570672/?notif_t=plan_user_invited&notif_id=1492300444693992

Tickets available at Eventbrite
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/free-transit-for-low-income-individuals-community-forum-tickets-33236845299?aff=efbevent

WRGreens Info Table at Cross Cultures Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Tues 21 March 2017

Cross Cultures | since 1991 © MagazineThis Tuesday please join us for Cross Cultures’ Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

What: Cross Cultures Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
When: Tuesday, 21 March 2017 from 8:45am to 8:45pm
Where: Rotunda, Kitchener City Hall
Location: 200 King Street West, Kitchener, Ontario Map

The event is on all day, with a huge attendance of local schoolkids presenting and participating until 2:00pm, talks and lectures all afternoon, and a Peace Vigil and Peace Concert in the evening.

If anyone would like to help staff our information table for a few hours, either morning or afternoon, please drop by.

There’s a schedule of events on the KWPeace Calendar Pick any time, there’s always something interesting happening.

– –Bob.

2017 SGM Policy Ratification Results Are In!

green-voteI am pleased to see these nearly unanimous results on the GPC website.  All policy adopted at the 2016 Special General Meeting in Calgary has been ratified.

The lowest percentages were 85.1% and 86.9% … the remaining policy was approved by more than 90% of the voters.  Thank you so much for participating in the democratic process.  It is gratifying to see the Green Party of Canada leading the way on human rights issues for both Canadian and Palestinian indigenous peoples.

You can download your own certified copy of the Simply Voting results here.

2017 SGM Ratification Vote Results

Party Politics

Wellington—Halton Hills MP Michael Chong speaks at the 2016 International Plowing Match.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner and other dignitaries listen to
Wellington—Halton Hills MP Michael Chong speak at the 2016 International Plowing Match.

by Teresa Cornwell


Canadians, we need to double down on our work for inclusive progressive society.  We need to make sure we get electoral reform so the right wing can not split the progressive vote again.   We need to make sure our social safety nets are strong.  Please do not think our politicians are better. We need to continue to hold them accountable.

Conservative Leadership Candidate Kellie Leitch has received lots of media attention for her racist platform ideas.

I have been pondering and discussing what we can do to make sure Canada continues to be an inclusive society, and this is an idea. One thing alone won’t be enough, but many small things can have a very big impact.

The first thing I have come up with to do is let the Conservative Party leadership candidates know that we don’t want Trump style politics here. We want Canada to be an inviting country, we don’t need a Canada values test (whose values, since diversity is our strength), we don’t want people to have to hide from who they are or who they love, we want religious freedoms – that is for all religions.

There are currently 12 people running for leader of the Conservative Party, how many can you name?

We need to let these people know that we don’t want Leitch’s values. Can you call or email them to let them know you want a diverse, inclusive Canada. Tell them you won’t vote for an MP if their leader has racist ideals. If your current MP is Conservative call or email them as well.

I have looked up their phone and email addresses, some of these people already have racist things in their platform (banning the niqab during citizenship). Michael Chong called Leitch out on her Trump style politics. Let him know you want him to continue to push progressive ideals.

Lisa Raitt and Brad Trost shouldn’t be using MP resources for this but I couldn’t find any other contact info.

michael-chong_4998
CPC Leadership Candidate Michael Chong called Leitch out on her Trump style politics.

Chris Alexander 905-626-7517 chris@chrisalexander.ca
Maxime Bernier 819-205-3102 info@maximebernier.com
Steven Blaney 581-991-4983 info@blaney2017.ca
Michael Chong 1-800-837-7075 info@chong.ca or chisholm@chong.ca
Kellie Leitch 1-855-216-8095 team@kellieworks.ca
Daniel Lindsay – no contact info found
Deepak Obhrai 403-991-6757 info@electdeepakobhrai.com
Erin O’Toole info@erinotoole.ca
Lisa Raitt 613-996-7046 lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca
Andrew Saxton info@andrewsaxton.ca
Andrew Scheer media@andrewscheer.com
Brad Trost 306-975-6133 brad.trost@parl.gc.ca

 

Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot: public survey

One of the most important Green Party of Canada campaign issues was the Guaranteed Livable Income.  The idea was piloted in Canada under the name “Mincome” under the first Prime Minister Trudeau.   What happened then is what happens all to often… the government fell and its successors had no interest in implementing policy based on their predecessor’s pilot project.   Here in Waterloo Region, we have our own Basic Income Waterloo Region advocacy group that’s part of a Canada-wide grassroots movement to make a basic income guarantee the next great innovation in social policy.

Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the Waterloo Greens Office during the 2015 election
Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the WRGreens 2015 campaign office.

The Ontario Liberal Government is considering running its own pilot program, and it would be enormously helpful to fill out their

Basic Income Pilot: public survey

While on the surface it may seem that such a program would be prohibitively expensive, ironically research shows the effect of a properly managed basic income guarantee is actually a savings to government, as well as a boost to small business and innovation.  Check out Basic Income Waterloo Region’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

.

An Enemy of the People

Waterloo Greens’ Richard Walsh is mounting a local production of a play about whistle blowing in a Water-Safety Crisis.

richard-walsh
Richard Walsh
2015 Green Party Candidate in Waterloo

Although this is not a Green Party event, even if our esteemed colleague Richard was not involved in this production, the issues of whistleblowing, water, public accountability and the environmental certainly fall within the bounds of green interest.

Many of us remember incidents of severe water contamination in  Grassy Narrows,  Walkerton,  Elmira, Ontario, and  Flint, Michigan.

Do you also remember how some municipal and provincial or state authorities and local businesspersons tried to cover up the dangers to residents’ health?

That’s what the next theatre production by Christ Church Waterloo is all about: environmental and moral responsibility.

On November 10th-12th at 8 pm Christ Players presents in the sanctuary Richard Walsh’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s original 1882 drama, An Enemy of the People.

Richard has set the play in Canada 2016, abbreviated it, modernized the language, and incorporated audience participation. As well, after each performance audience members can participate in group discussion about the issues the play raises.

In the play the main character, “Dr. Thomas Stockmann,” who is his town’s Medical Officer of Health, discovers that the source of water for the town and its new healing baths is dangerous to use. He sets out to overcome cowardice and deception by the powers-that-be in the face of this crisis in public health. Despite his political naiveté, Thomas bravely challenges the town’s status quo for what he believes is the greater good. However, like all the characters in the play, he has personal flaws that make his attempts to resolve the dangers to his community difficult to achieve.

An Enemy of The People
November 10 – 12, 2016
8:00 pm

Christ Lutheran Church
445 Anndale Road, Waterloo

Tickets ($15 for adults, $10 for students) may be ordered in advance from the church office @ 519-885-4050.
Seating, which is general admission, is limited to 100 per performance.

(As this production contains some coarse language, it’s suitable for students from Grade 7 onwards.)All proceeds will be directed to the church’s community-outreach programmes.

"Enemy of the People" poster

Dimitri Lascaris Town Hall @UofW

uniTonight at 6:00 pm!
Monday, October 17th, 2016
University of Waterloo
PAS room 2083

200 University Avenue West,  Waterloo, ON 
(~MAP~)

img_6172Dimitri Lascaris graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 1991, and is a practicing lawyer called to the bars of Ontario, the State of New York, and the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York.  In 2012, Canadian Lawyer Magazine identified Mr. Lascaris as one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada, and in 2013, Canadian Business Magazine identified him as one of the 50 most influential people in Canadian business.

Lascaris is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Unity Project for the Relief of Homelessness, and is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Real News Network, an independent, not-for-profit media organization based in Baltimore, Maryland. He previously served as a Board member of Toronto 350.org.  In the 2015 federal election, Dimitri ran as the Green Party candidate in the riding of London West.

In March 2016, Dimitri was named Justice Critic in the Green Party of Canada Shadow Cabinet.  He was also the author and submitter of the Green Party resolution on “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” that the GPC adopted as Party Policy at this year’s Policy Convention in Ottawa.  This was the first (and only) party with representation in the House of Commons to publicly support elements of the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a means to pressure Israel to respect international law, and oppose efforts to “prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.”

The Green Party quickly came under intense pressure from pro-Israeli organizations for its democratic adoption of the resolution. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May reacted by expressing her disagreement with the resolution, firing three members of her shadow cabinet who publicly supported the resolution, and calling a “special general meeting” on December 3-4 in Calgary to revisit, and potentially reverse, the resolution.

Tonight!

Join Dimitri Lascaris for a Town Hall discussion about freedom, dissent and BDS ~ with special guests Rehab Nazzal and Wendy Goldsmith.

Rehab Nazzal is a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist and educator whose video, photography and sound works deal with the violence of war and settler colonialism. Recently, Rehab was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper while documenting the noxious activities of Israeli skunk trucks in occupied Bethlehem. 

Social worker and mother Wendy Goldsmith is a member of the steering committee of Canada Boat to Gaza, a representative at Freedom Flotilla Coalition and on the Media team for the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Wendy recently returned from Barcelona, Spain, Ajaccio, Corsica and Messina, Sicily where she participated in the sailing of the Zaytouna.

For more information tweet @laurelrusswurm or @bobjonkman or email bjonkman@sobac.com

Cross Cultures Town Hall Poster

Cross Cultures Town Hall with Dimitri Lascaris

Cross Cultures Interactive Town Hall with Dimitri Lascaris poster

Join Cross Cultures for a lively interactive town hall with Dimitri Lascaris who will address

* OUR FREEDOMS
* DISSENT
* B D S

Cross Cultures encourages everyone— especially those who disagree — to come and give their perspective…

… that is how we dialogue and that is how we promote mutual respect and understanding 

… not by suppressing, censoring or avoiding sensitive issues …

All attempts to invite a speaker whose views are anti BDS to provide the counter point of view have been declined.

Dimitri Lascaris
dimitrylascarisis a lawyer called to practice in Ontario and New York State. After working in the New York and Paris offices of a major Wall Street law firm, Dimitri became a class action lawyer in Canada. His class actions practice focused on shareholder rights, environmental wrongs and human rights violations.

In 2012, Canadian Lawyer Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada, and in 2013, Canadian Business Magazine named him one of the 50 most influential persons in Canadian business.

Until recently, Dimitri was the Justice Critic in the Green Party of Canada shadow cabinet. He is the author and submitter of the Green Party of Canada’s BDS resolution

“I am very happy to announce that, for our BDS town hall at the University of Waterloo on October 17, I will be joined by two extraordinary women, Rehab Nazzal and Wendy Goldsmith.

“Rehab is a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Toronto and Bethlehem. Her video, photography and sound works deal with the violence of war and settler colonialism, and have been shown in Canada and internationally. Recently, Rehab was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper while documenting the noxious activities of Israeli skunk trucks in occupied Bethlehem. 

“Wendy is social worker and mother of three from London Ontario. As a social worker she has worked with many marginalized and traumatized individuals, families and communities and began her work in Palestine after Operation ‘Cast Lead’ and saw through photos and direct accounts of the horror and devastation inflicted by Israel on Gaza. Wendy is a member of the steering committee of Canada Boat to Gaza, a representative at Freedom Flotilla Coalition and on the Media team for the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Wendy recently returned from Barcelona, Spain, Ajaccio, Corsica and Messina, Sicily where she participated in the sailing of the Zaytouna.

“It is an honour for me
to speak about the
GPC’s BDS resolution
with Rehab and Wendy.”

— Dimitry Lascaris

This event is open to the public.

WHEN: 6:00pm
Monday, October 17th, 2016

uniWHERE:
Psychology Anthropology Sociology Building
PAS room 2083
200 University Ave West,
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
(~MAP~)