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Pubdate: Thu, 01 Sep 2011 Source: Columbia Journal (CN BC) Copyright: 2011 Columbia Journal Contact: http://www.columbiajournal.ca/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4403 BEYOND PROHIBITION FOUNDATION: HARPER GOVERNMENT DECLARES TOTAL WAR ON MARIJUANA, POSSESSION ARRESTS JUMP 14% At the end of July Statistics Canada released their annual crime statistics for Canada, revealing a startling increase in the number of simple marijuana possession arrests. Over 58,000 Canadians were arrested last year for simple marijuana possession, up an astounding 14% over the previous year, and comprising over 54% of all drug arrests in Canada. "What we are seeing is a coordinated effort led by the Conservative government to crack down on simple marijuana possession as part of a multi-billion dollar increase in the war on drugs. At a time when almost every country in the world is recognizing the total and abject failure of the war on drugs, this Conservative government is increasing spending by billions of dollars" said Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. "Mr. Harper continues to talk about how government spending needs to be reduced, and how we can't afford social programs, yet he is pouring billions into the failed drug war. Why? Why did 58,000 Canadians need to be arrested over a plant that more Canadians want legalized than voted for Conservative candidates? Why is Mr. Harper spending billions to arrest Canadians for simple marijuana possession?" In addition to the crackdown on simple marijuana possession, the Conservative government has recently proposed unprecedented restrictions to the medical marijuana program. The proposals include the removal of personal and designated production, patient identification, and forcing patients to purchase from government selected, commercial suppliers via the mail. Medical marijuana advocates across the country have been united in their opposition to these changes. "It's become clear what this government's priorities are. A crackdown on simple marijuana possession, mandatory minimum sentences for growing even one marijuana plant, and a dismantling of the medical marijuana program. This is nothing less than a total war on marijuana" said Jacob Hunter, Policy Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. "Patients in this country can not afford the low quality and highly expensive commercially produced marijuana, indeed, only 22% of patients purchase from the government now. When combined with mandatory minimum sentences for a single plant, patients will be forced to choose between going without medicine, forgoing food or shelter to purchase it, or risk spending months in jail for producing it themselves. This is an absolute affront to Canadian's charter rights, and an unthinkably brutal attack on sick and suffering people." Statistics Canada crime data: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/110721/t110721b1-eng.htm Beyond Prohibition Foundation 814-207 West Hastings, Vancouver BC V6B 1H7 - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.