Pubdate: Tue, 18 Apr 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jodie Emery
Page: A9
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


Arrests will continue under new bill, says Jodie Emery.

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: Its 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 are 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
are unable to supply that demand. How can they 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, Calif., 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

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

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Jodie Emery is a pot activist and cofounder of Cannabis Culture pot shops.
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