The Liberals have lied – their pot plan is not legalization


The Liberals have lied – their pot plan is not legalization

BY: Jodie Emery – Ottawa Citizen – April 17, 2017

The Liberal government finally introduced its highly anticipated marijuana legalization legislation. But this proposal is not legalization – it is continued criminalization, with new harsher laws designed to punish even more people.

Canadians want marijuana to be legal because they grew tired of seeing family and friends arrested and charged, then denied job opportunities and travel rights. They became frustrated seeing police spend their tax dollars every year going after people for pot, when they should be solving serious crimes such as murder, assault, rape and theft.

Decades of studies note that the multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry already exists in Canada despite decades of prohibition. People grow it, sell it, and consume it in massive quantities. And they’re not gangsters; in fact, justice department court statistics acknowledge 95 per cent of growers are otherwise law-abiding citizens with no connection to organized crime.

Some unsavoury people may be involved in the pot industry, but blame that on the government: their prohibition policy increases the value of cannabis, which makes it attractive to certain groups eager to make money. If coffee were banned tomorrow, organized crime would get into the coffee bean business. Prohibition manufactures crime where none would otherwise exist.

Under this legislation, we will see continued arrests for possession, growing and selling; harsher penalties, ranging from 14 years to life in prison for various offences; no pardons or amnesty for Canadians with criminal records; continued dispensary raids and arrests; and a new reefer madness propaganda campaign.

How is this “legalization”?

The Liberals have simply proposed decriminalizing small amounts of personal possession (30 grams) and plants (four, and they must be very small), which they won’t even allow right away. That means tens of thousands of citizens will continue to be victimized by laws most people agree is unjust.

This legislation doesn’t restrict access to kids either. It just criminalizes more Canadians by enforcing extremely harsh penalties. Many young adults will face long prison sentences just for sharing a joint with their friends. How does this “protect our kids,” or anyone at all?

It seems the legislation simply legalizes a licensed producer oligopoly. Licensed producers exist because patients, growers and dispensaries were arrested, charged and won in court; Health Canada’s medical marijuana information sheet states they only allow licensed producers because courts ordered them to do so.

Licensed producers are supposed to serve patients across Canada, but they are unable to supply that demand. How can they possibly feed the recreational market? They can’t. Canadians already know where to get cannabis, and they will continue to obtain it the same ways they always have.

Legalization was supposed to bring the existing industry out of the shadows and into the light, but this legislation will keep it in the dark, and deny people the opportunity to transition into the legal industry. You can’t become a legal producer if you have a criminal record. In contrast, Oakland, California offered reparations to drug war victims by allowing them entry into the legal pot industry.

This is not legalization. It’s Prohibition 2.0, and beneficiaries include licensed producers who have managed to effectively lobby – and even hire – Liberal marijuana task force members and government officials. Reports say Anne McLellan’s law firm advises licensed producers; no wonder her task force recommended licensed producers be the only legal growers.

Mark Ware, also on the task force, was hired by Canopy Growth, founded by the Liberal party’s former chief financial officer, Chuck Rifici. Many cops and politicians are involved in these companies, making a lot of money while encouraging law enforcement to arrest their competition.

Legalization should mean the end of criminalization – not continued prohibition. I support reasonable regulation of cannabis, but this legislation is not reasonable.

It’s prohibitive, punitive and will not achieve any of its stated goals. Once again, the Liberals have lied, and Canadians will pay the price.

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