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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 

Why Marijuana WILL NOT Be Decriminalized In Canada

Canadian news watchers will be aware that there were two separate stories this week concerning Marijuana use in Canada:
-the Canadian Press reported that the number of people busted for pot possession has jumped by more than one-third in several Canadian cities.
-16.8% of Canadians said they smoked pot in the past 12 months

One of the first things that the Harper government did when they came into office was to toss out the proposed legislation that the Liberals were touting to lessen penalties for minor possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Personally, I believe that the Liberals had no intention of passing any such measure. If they were truly committed, they would have acted in a timely manner. Neither former PM Jean Chretien nor Paul Martin were interested in decriminalization.

The Liberals have had decades in power to do the right thing.

Back as far as 1969, Pierre Trudeau's Liberal administration initiated Canada's first serious inquiry into marijuana use in the nation. In June 1970 the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (The LeDain Commission) delivered an interim report, calling for the decriminalization of marijuana..

Nothing ever came of the recommendations under subsequent Liberal administrations.

In 2002 the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drug Use studied cannabis issue extensively in Canada for a second time. Once again, their unanimous recommendation was that cannabis be legalized in a regulatory framework similar to alcohol.

"We know our proposals are provocative, that they will meet with resistance. However, we are also convinced that Canadian society has the maturity and openness to welcome an informed debate."
- Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, Cannabis: Summary Report September 2002.

"The decision to criminalize cannabis was made "without any apparent scientific basis nor even any real sense of social urgency."
- Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, 2002. P. 274

"There has never, in history, been a good reason presented for marijuana being illegal," said Banks. "It's fundamentally important for people to understand that it's never been based on the facts. It's non-toxic, it's not addictive and has no provable, long-term irreversible effects."
Senator Tommy Banks, Deputy Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs.
Edmonton Sun
July 16, 2003

Nothing ever came of these recommendations either.

The issue of decriminalization brings the wing-nuts out of the woodwork. Police unions see it as a 'job security' issue and loudly condemn ANY thought of law reform. This scares the crap out of law makers. They do not want to go head to head with rank and file police union members.

The right wing rank and file drag out their idiotic logic and proclaim that marijuana is a 'gateway' drug - 'use of cannabis leads directly to heroin addiction.'

There is also a 'Cheech & Chong' factor in the existing decriminalization movement. Whacked out proponents talking to reporters at the most recent 'Smoke-In' do not portray a positive message in the debate for the 6:00 evening news.

It’s time to recognize what the problem is here. Until such time that an orderly method of producing, processing, packaging, marketing and TAXING marijuana can be found, nothing will happen, and Canadians will continue to be arrested and retain criminal records for a practice that fully 1/5 of our fellow citizens conduct.

Welcome to Prohibition in Canada. The popularity of the Speakeasy continues!

“The law is a ass — an idiot.”
Charles Dickens

Just browsing the internet, very interesting blog


Good post.

I still have faith. Let's not forget the law doesn't need to be formally changed, it just needs to fall back into a grey area where the police aren't expected to enforce it and they won't.

Charles that would be good. Are you optimistic???

I don't think it'll happen any time soon either (after all, as you point out the first time it was seriously discussed and recommended as the right policy option for the nation was 1969, and we're still waiting) but I do wonder if the demographics will eventually be too overwhelming to ignore.

That 16.5% is just of people aged 15-64. I'd love to know what the number is for the 15-30 age group. Even the 15-45! I'd imagine it's much higher (ha!). And that's NOT people who have EVER smoked, or who haven't but think smoking's OK (or shouldn't be criminal) it's just people who ACTUALLY SMOKED in 2006. And, of course, there are many who do NOT smoke, but would still favour legalization (and many more who would favour decriminalization).

I don't know what percentage of people need to think a law is wrong before it's too overwhelming to ignore, but I'd imagine once you start pushing 25%, it's getting dicey. And if 16.5% from 15-64 are smokers, and (let's say for argument's sake) 25% from 15-30 are smokers, what will the overall percentage be in 10 years? Who knows, but I wouldn't bet on lower. And if 20% of people smoke, what percentage of those who don't smoke know a smoker whom they don't see as a criminal.

People who oppose decriminalization or legalization should perhaps for a moment think of it this way. You know someone who smokes marijuana. Even if you don't know they smoke (and if you oppose decriminalization it's likely they haven't told you!) you STILL know someone who smokes. It's almost impossible that you don't, given the numbers. Now, maybe if you found out you'd still want them arrested, but maybe not, no?

Great summary, thanks but did you leave out one of the more coherent reasons for not decriminalizing Mary? The warring Americans. They were all over this when it was in the news, even getting their Ambassador to shake his fist and threaten to close the border — which they'll do anyhow with their coming passposrt requirement..

Decriminalization is the only way to go.Legalization means the government controls who grows who sells much like alcohol.Doesn't make sense.The stuff grows wild for gods sake.
One thing has to be said marijuana is not a drug it is a herb and a rather benign herb.One can list medicinal and other positives one after the other.Try and list just one negative.
As a disabled person,let me tell a little story.I was prescribed percosets/oxycodin 6 times a day.Now this is a addicting class three narcotic,I believe there is a huge black market for this drug which is also known as "Poor mans heroin" with many negative side affects.
After a year I so I quit due to the addiction(very unpleasant when one forgets to take pills or prescription is late)being treated like a criminal every time I went to the pharmacy,constipation,can't drive,got to be careful with alcohol etc etc.On top of all that my life began to revolve around my prescription,I was basically a "junkie".I had to always make sure I had my pills,if I went anywhere I had to make sure I had enough pills and some extras just in case.In short I was motivated by the same fear that motivates a "junkie",fear of getting sick(withdrawals,very very unpleasant.
Since then I use,well you can guess,no side affects,no pain,no addiction,nothing but positive benefit.Indeed I feel much better happier,and healthier.
Herb is literally a miracle plant,I never understood the "cannabis culture" thing,but now I do.I would recommend it to all.

Great summary, thanks but did you leave out one of the more coherent reasons for not decriminalizing Mary? The warring Americans. They were all over this when it was in the news, even getting their Ambassador to shake his fist and threaten to close the border — which they'll do anyhow with their coming passposrt requirement..

Good post. I agree with you that the Liberals dragged their feet. And I also agree with those who point out that the Harperite Cons were just trying to please the Bush criminals and their ridiculous War on drugs. But why aren't the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc banding together to force legislation through that would prevent (at least) one in five Canadians from being potentially criminalized? Why do the opposition parties keep putting their cheap partisan politics before the interests of Canada and Canadians. What an old and lardy assed country Canada is becoming....

Like Tony said I think it has to do with the USians. If we went decrim it would put pressure on them to do the same. The possibility of decriminalization puts their whole multi-billion dollar illegal drugs scam and gulag system in peril. Follow the buck, Buck!

I wouldn't be surprised if Canada was more of a pot smoking nation than any of the others, but at the present time, I think that there is a dynamic which may be at work here which bears mention.

The fact is that Canadians have been a lot more open about their marijuana experiences then most other nations may be because we've been having an on going debate about it for so long that people are comfortable with talking about it.

I don't think most other nations on the planet have the same open debate about marijuana that Canadians do, and I suspect there may be more of a likelihood for Canadians to disclose their marijuana smoking habits then citizens from other countries simply due to the fact that we're used to talking about it...

So, one thing to keep in mind is that this study may have shown us something that it was not designed to show us...

That is that Canadians are more comfortable with marijuana then citizens of other nations.

Just some food for thought.

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