Pubdate: Wed, 19 Apr 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Jodie Emery
Page: A7


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.

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: Their 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.

Under this legislation, we will see continued arrests for possession,
growing and selling; Harsher penalties, ranging from 14 years to life
for various offences; no pardons or amnesty for Canadians with
criminal records; continued dispensary raids and arrests; and more
propaganda. How is this "legalization?" The Liberals have simply
proposed decriminalizing small amounts of personal possession (30
grams) and plants (four), which they won't even allow right away. That
means tens of thousands of citizens will continue to be victimized.

This legislation doesn't restrict access to kids either. It just
criminalizes more Canadians by enforcing harsh penalties. Many young
adults will face long prison sentences just for sharing a joint with
their friends.

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
they are unable to supply that demand. How can they possibly feed the
recreational market? They can't. Canadians already know where to get
cannabis, and they will continue to obtain it the ways they always

Legalization was supposed to bring the existing industry 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 Liberals' former chief financial officer, Chuck Rifici. Many
cops and politicians are involved in these firms, making money while
encouraging law enforcement to arrest the competition.

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 goals.

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Jodie Emery is a pot activist and co-founder of Cannabis Culture pot shops.
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