Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jun 2016
Source: News, The (New Glasgow, CN NS)
Copyright: 2016 Transcontinental Inc.
Page: 6


Entrenched, partisan mentality is one of the worst things about our
political institutions. The federal Liberals - despite claims of a
progressive attitude toward governing - are demonstrating they're just
as capable of it as the rest.

With the legalization of marijuana still on the agenda, the Liberals
rejected a motion from the NDP this week to - in the meantime -
decriminalize simple possession leading up to the law change.

This wouldn't be the first time politicians and others have suggested
that interim step as sensible.

Legalization, as discussed by the Liberals, is addressing an injustice
and a law that has never helped combat drug abuse. But with the
expectation that the legislation could take up to two years, people
are pointing out that anyone caught with a small amount would still be
nailed by the justice system and carry a criminal record.

Notably, one Liberal supported the NDP motion. Toronto-area MP
Nathaniel Erskine Smith described a visit from a man in his riding
with such a predicament, having been caught with seven grams.

The only way to support his constituent was to take leave of his
government's position and support the NDP motion calling for
decriminalization. Good for him to exercise his judgment.

 From the Liberal point of view, Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould
said the government would oppose the motion, that marijuana would
remain an illegal substance until the laws are rewritten.

The apparent reasoning is that until the government has a regulatory
system in place accompanying legalization, production and distribution
would still be in the hands of the criminal element.

Well, what don't they get about this motion? The idea is to avoid
prosecuting users: incidents that involve simple possession of small
amounts. By all means, use our law enforcement wisely and continue to
go after the criminal networks that are trafficking.

This comes across as simply rejecting a worthwhile idea because it
originated from across the Commons floor.

Saddling people with criminal records for something that won't be
viewed as a crime within a couple of years is misuse of the justice
system. The previous Conservative government jacked up the fees for
people applying for pardons for old crimes. In dismissing this
reasonable motion from the NDP, the current government is abdicating
responsibility and compounding that injustice.
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