A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] “The forgotten victims of Canada’s pot laws”

I largely agree with Akwasi Owusu-Bempah’s brief Spacing National article. Let’s have sane marijuana laws, please, and deal out justice properly to those unfairly caught up by the old laws!

At a time when many Canadians stand to benefit from the legalization of cannabis and the burgeoning medical and recreational markets, consideration should be given to those already caught up in the criminal justice system because of pot. Cities and town across the country have seen a proliferation of cannabis shops open on their main streets, and many police raids during this grey period in their legality.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose to power last fall in part based on a promise to legalize cannabis. Having admitted to smoking it while sitting as an MP, Trudeau’s campaign message clearly resonated amongst a Canadian population with its own fondness for the drug; 1 in 10 Canadians aged fifteen and over admitted to using cannabis in 2012. Recognizing the harms brought by prohibition, many Canadians have long supported its legalization. Now, the federal government is responding to public sentiment. It aims to generate tax revenue from a legalized market while at the same time stripping organized crime of billions of dollars in illicit profits.

However, as the government eyes potential tax dollars, and wealthy investors stand to profit nicely from the growth in our medicinal and recreational cannabis industries (Canada’s first cannabis company recently topped a billion dollar valuation), little attention has been given to repairing the harms done to those who have suffered under prohibition — mainly young people and members of disadvantaged minority groups. Indeed, the policing of cannabis and other drugs has been a priority for Canadian law enforcement agencies. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian police departments reported approximately 109,000 offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in 2013, the most recent year for which data are readily available. Of these, roughly 73,000 were cannabis-related cases and 59,000 were for possession. While many of these cases were cleared through police discretion (i.e. not taken to court), the number of people tried for simple possession was not insignificant. Between 2008/2009 and 2011/2012, cannabis possession accounted for approximately 59,000 adult and 14,000 youth cases completed in our courts. Of these, 25,000 adults and almost 6,000 youth were found guilty. So, in about half the time our PM has held office, more than 30,000 Canadians were branded with the marker of a criminal record.

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Written by Randy McDonald

December 26, 2016 at 9:00 pm

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