Monday, July 16, 2007

Canadian print media coverage of the Marijuana issue

"A Liberal Senator from B.C. is proposing Canada legalize marijuana and “tax the hell out of it.” Senator Larry Campbell seems to be the only politician lately to say openly what many have been thinking for years; why are so many police hours tied up busting people for smoking dope? What are recreational pot smokers actually up to? Unless the feds consider a case of the munchies, incessant giggling followed by a movie and a long snooze as criminal behaviour, reality must finally win out. Look what decriminalization did for Holland. The idea to legalize pot was touted by the Chretien Liberals in the last millennium, but the laws have regressed since then. Even the head of police chiefs for the country said publicly that legalizing pot would save tens of thousands of convictions annually, millions in tax dollars while freeing up a lot of police time for serious crime like murder, rape and robbery. "

"Liberal Senator Larry Campbell restated his preference this week to regulate and control pot, just as alcohol production and distribution is governed. Then "tax the hell out of it," Campbell urged, adding revenues could be rolled into underfunded priorities like health care. Too much is spent on enforcement and justice with too little gained, he rightly said. And it's hard to imagine any government move that would do more to kick the stuffing out of organized crime, which is thriving on this growth industry, just as it did on the prohibition of alcohol in an earlier era. ""

The Tories, when they came to power, scrapped the proposed legislation and following that arrests for possession again spiked. People might well ask whether said arrests are saving people from themselves or just sapping police energies that could be used better elsewhere.This is somewhat less an age issue than at one time, since about 50 per cent of people who toke are over the age of 30. But, no surprise, it’s often the younger people who get caught. Any changes might need to happen in baby steps, but it’s long overdue that possessing small amounts not be dealt with as a criminal act. "

"Since the decriminalization plan went up in smoke, arrests for possession of marijuana have risen by as much as 50 per cent in cities across Canada, according to a survey by the Canadian Press. Diligence has increased by police, as it should. After all, it is the police's job to enforce the law, however senseless that law may be. Does the country seem any safer or better off today than it was before the Conservatives dropped the bill? We suspect many haven't noticed a difference. Except, however, for those thousands of people whose lives have been made worse or even ruined by being stuck with criminal records for offences only a few social dinosaurs still consider worth prosecuting. According to those UN statistics, thousands more Canadians will endure the same fate until a federal government comes on the scene with the courage to bring some sense to Canada's drug laws. "

"Senator Campbell has once again put this issue on the public agenda.Most Canadians believe that possessing and using small amounts of marijuana is generally a victimless crime, and one that causes little damage to society.Indeed it is prohibition, which has created a massive black market and underground economy, with guns and violence to protect profits, which is causing more harm."

"the Conservatives have stubbornly stuck to a law-enforcement approach - blind to history and deaf to the pleas of medical and public policy experts for reform to our drug laws. …Nevertheless, the report suggests that Canadians don't care what the law says about marijuana. They're going to smoke pot anyway. The possibility of punishment, in other words, has no deterrent effect whatsoever.As far as marijuana is concerned, Canadians think the law is an ass. And that isn't going to change. "

There is near universal consensus that Canada’s marijuana laws are a joke. Some favor legalization. Some favor decriminalization. Many do not know the difference, but just want something radically different than what we have got now. Still others think decriminalization and legalization mean the same thing. The Vancouver Province, for example, seems not to know the difference. A Province headline read as follows: "Decriminalize pot: Campbell". Inside the article campbell was quoted thus. "Legalize it, tax the hell out of it and put the money into health care." CTV seems to have made the same mistake. "A B.C. Liberal senator says the federal government should decriminalize marijuana and ''tax the hell out of it,'' with the revenue going to public services such as health care."

It is time someone woke up the stodgy old guys heading the Liberal party. The Canadian public wants its politicians to take the lead on this and not wait for the courts to chip away at it piece peal. 10% of Quebecers favor Stephane Dion. Maybe if the Liberals were to actually embrace the kind socially liberal policies that Quebecers prefer (e.g., liberalization of Canada's marijuana laws) they might have more success.

UPDATE: Here is one more article.

"So, we are tops among Western countries in terms of pot use. It could be worse. We could be the biggest cocaine snorters on the planet. That dubious honour goes to Spain. Iran wins out for heroin, Australia for ecstasy and the Philippines for amphetamines. These are much more dangerous drugs than dope. Marijuana is still considered among the "least addictive of all psycho-active substances," Jurgen Rehm, a senior scientist with the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said in an article in the Montreal Gazette. We are a progressive nation in many ways, yet not quite so bold as yet to follow The Netherlands in legalizing pot. Pro-dope advocates continue to push for marijuana's legalization; the previous federal government was making strides towards decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of pot. Certainly pot can be harmful in large quantities and over long periods of use. So too can cigarettes and alcohol, legally distributed to anyone over the age of 19 in Canada. Some studies show both booze and tobacco are more harmful than dope. Yet marijuana is the illegal substance. Perhaps it is time to seriously consider decriminalizing a recreational drug that one-in-six Canadians from age 15 to 64 used in 2004. If dope truly was for dopes, then this country wouldn't be able to function with such high usage rates. But we're doing just fine. "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CTV is a joke.