Pubdate: Mon, 23 Mar 2015
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Toronto Star
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Re: Let the cops ticket tokers, Editorial March 10

In 2002, a nonpartisan Senate committee released a four-volume report 
in which it unanimously and unambiguously recommended that cannabis 
be legally regulated in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco. The 
committee explicitly warned against a ticket and fine regime, citing 
jurisdictions that have tried it. Civil penalties lower the threshold 
and "widen the net" for enforcement. Where before the police would 
turn a blind eye or seize the cannabis and merely warn the possessor, 
they instead would issue a ticket. In Australia, because failure to 
pay is a criminal offence, more offenders were criminalized after the 
ticketing system was implemented. Giving the police more discretion 
exacerbates existing geographic and demographic enforcement 
disparities, which are already disproportionately skewed toward the 
lower classes and visible minorities. While a few hundred dollars 
might represent a fancy meal to a police chief or a newspaper editor, 
it might represent the grocery or electricity bill to a struggling 
single parent. It has been over a decade since the Senate made its 
recommendations and more than four decades since the Le Dain 
Commission and the Shafer Commission. The futility, crime, costs and 
damage caused by cannabis prohibition are well understood. Legal 
regulation is long overdue.

Matthew M. Elrod, Victoria, B.C.
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