Pubdate: Tue, 12 Sep 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jodie Emery
Page: 7


It was the worst possible provincial legalization plan, but it just
became official. The Liberal government of Ontario announced a state
monopoly on the sale of legal non-medical cannabis, combined with a
massive crackdown on the existing cannabis industry.

Legalization wasn't supposed to be like this. Canadians increasingly
supported ending cannabis criminalization after watching billions of
tax dollars wasted by law enforcement going after peaceful people for

Marijuana has been grown and consumed in Canada for decades without
any measurable negative impact on the health and safety of society. In
fact, the impact has been more positive than negative, especially for
sick and suffering citizens.

Medical marijuana has been widely accepted for many years now thanks
to scientific evidence and tireless advocacy of "illegal" patients,
growers and dispensaries. Those gains and legalized medical access
were hard-fought and won in court by people who suffered raids and

Licensed producers of medical marijuana exist because of lawbreakers
winning court orders declaring Health Canada must provide access, in
order to protect the charter rights of medical consumers.

Civil disobedience is the only reason cannabis law reform has
happened. No government willingly increases cannabis freedoms.
Law-breakers had to force change through the courts, and through
protests, election campaigns, media messaging and other forms of outreach.

Canadians, especially regular marijuana users, know the vast majority
of growers and suppliers are peaceful and non-violent. That's why they
support legalizing the existing pot industry and dispensaries. And
Justice Department records support that perception; 95 per cent of
cannabis-growing cases in court have no connection to organized crime
or gangs, and the people charged were "otherwise law-abiding."

This is what's supposed to be legalized: the tens of thousands of
providers who are currently defined as criminals by government policy.
They want to be legal. They want to come into the light, but the
government forces them to stay in the shadows.

Governments at every level have fought against cannabis for years with
law enforcement and propaganda. Now that the laws are changing -
thanks to advocates and legal activism - these same anti-pot politicos
want federal control of production and provincial monopolies on

Even worse, these governments have declared war on "illegal" growers
and providers, denying them the option to transition into legality,
while promising to send men with guns to shut them down - for being
unable to transition into legality. We also know many former
politicians and cops have founded or bought into legal medical
marijuana companies, hoping to cash in on legal recreational pot after
calling for and profiting from raids against independent retailers. It
is a very rotten state of affairs.

Member of Parliament Bill Blair, the former undercover drug narc and
police chief of Toronto, gleefully announced that a quarter of a
billion tax dollars will be provided for "legalization law enforcement
costs." That's on top of the hundreds of millions of tax dollars
already funding anti-pot policing - but that's what happens when you
put a police officer in charge of legalization. So instead of
legalization reducing the money wasted on law enforcement, we're
adding to it.

Additionally, the province of Ontario is going to spend hundreds of
millions of tax dollars setting up a new pot bureaucracy that isn't
needed or even supported by taxpayers and cannabis consumers. Why
won't they legalize the current suppliers who are already meeting
consumer demand?

Cannabis legalization should mean the end of criminalization.
Unfortunately, it seems the only thing being legalized is a
sure-to-fail government attempt to reinvent and monopolize an industry
that already exists.

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