Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jul 2012
Source: Hill Times, The (Ottawa, CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 Hill Times Publishing Inc.
Author: Andrea Matrosovs
Note: Andrea Matrosovs is spokeswoman, NORML Women's Alliance of Canada.


Only a policy of taxation and regulation of cannabis similar to the 
framework of alcohol would eliminate the harms that prohibition is 
causing our country. The NORML Women's Alliance of Canada is 
mobilizing the collective voice of women across the country to end 
the prohibition of cannabis.

The Conservative federal government recently released its new drug 
strategy and many in the cannabis tax and regulate movement see this 
as the darkness before the dawn. According to the report on plans and 
priorities tabled with the federal Treasury Board, Canada in the next 
five years will see a drastic $42-million cut to Health Canada's 
budget for their Drug Treatment Funding Program, while the budget for 
police drug enforcement and prosecutors will increase. Five-year 
funding for RCMP investigation of cannabis growers (and clandestine 
drug labs) will increase by $28-million up to $113-million. Add the 
cost of a larger prison population too.

Yet, as this Conservative government is committing millions of tax 
dollars on increased enforcement and incarceration, the world is 
waking up to the failure of cannabis prohibition.

South America, most affected by the "war on drugs" in terms of lost 
lives and increased violence is already seeking alternative 
strategies. These changes will likely come to fruition before the 
next Canadian federal election.

Three American states have legalization, and tax and regulate 
initiatives of cannabis on 2012 ballots. More states are drafting 
similar initiatives with considerable support.

Four former and eight current mayors of cities in British Columbia 
are advocating that cannabis needs to be taxed and regulated. The 
cannabis debate is at the tipping point around the world and 
Canadians will be informed voters in the next election when the 
"reefer madness" of the Conservative government gets an abrupt wakeup call.

The NORML Women's Alliance of Canada (NWAC) in affiliation with their 
American counterpart, the NORML Women's Alliance, are gathering 
momentum across North America.

Women who were once cautious about expressing their opposition to 
cannabis prohibition are now standing up together to create a 
collective voice calling for change. NWAC are women of every age 
group from across Canada, including non-consumers of cannabis, who 
are calling on the Canadian government to end prohibition, 
re-prioritize spending to focus on our families' education and 
healthcare and protect them from being further damaged by this failed 
government policy. Our country has seen the harms of prohibition for 
too long and the damage it is creating for future generations.

Contrary to the current Conservative government policy and actions, 
Canada needs to reduce not increase its jail population, heal the 
divide between youth and authority, and restore respect for 
government authority and law enforcement.

As a non-partisan organization NWAC will work with each party that 
defines its commitment to end prohibition in its platform for the 
next federal election.

NWAC's mission is to end cannabis prohibition by strategically 
focusing on politicians, policy-makers and the voting public, just as 
the women who helped to end alcohol prohibition in the 1930s.

NORML women across North America are following in the footsteps of 
the women who in 1929 formed the Women's Organization for National 
Prohibition Reform (WONPR) in the United States. They saw the damage 
alcohol prohibition was doing to their country. These women created a 
political and united voice of women from across the country.

Pauline Sabin, founder of the WONPR declared, "The time has come that 
we should organize, and to become articulate, and to work for some 
sane solution to this problem. Prohibition has led to more violation 
of and contempt for law, to more hypocrisy among both private 
citizens and public officials than anything else in our national history."

Sound familiar? WONPR had a mandate to identify the wet, the dry, and 
the hypocrite politicians, to put the unified weight of their voter 
support behind those who publicly advocated repealing the law, and 
thus very effectively helped to end alcohol prohibition. From now to 
the next Canadian federal election, the NORML Women's Alliance of 
Canada will be helping voters make an informed decision by 
identifying the parties and candidates who are for the taxation and 
regulation of cannabis and those who oppose it or are not willing to 
take a public stand to declare their support.

Just as we saw the harms of prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and 
1930s, Canada has suffered for generations because of the prohibition 
of cannabis. The dollars and hours of law enforcement dedicated to 
cannabis prohibition in Canada could be channelled to far better uses.

Revenue from the cannabis industry could be taxed and its creation of 
jobs could be legal, instead of allowing organized crime to reap 
profits from the current underground trade. Education could promote 
safe and responsible use if Canada were to regulate the adult use of 
cannabis. The time for further study is over.

We have heard the 2002 Special Senate Committee conclusion that only 
a policy of taxation and regulation of cannabis similar to the 
framework of alcohol would eliminate the harms that prohibition is 
causing our country. The NORML Women's Alliance of Canada is 
mobilizing the collective voice of women across the country to end 
the prohibition of cannabis.Taxation and regulation of cannabis will 
be an issue in the next federal election. The prohibition of cannabis 
will not affect the lives of our children and grandchildren as it has 
our generations.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom