HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Canada's War On Marijuana Ramps Up With Amendments To Controlled
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Nov 2012
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 The Georgia Straight
Author: Carlito Pablo


Earlier this year, John Anderson bought an exhaust fan at one of a
number of hydroponics stores in Nanaimo.

He needed the device because aside from teaching at Vancouver Island
University, the criminology professor runs a home business with his
partner, producing dried dog treats under the brand name Kali Wags.

"I said to the fellow who ran the store, the proprietor, 'This is
amazing; to whom do you sell?' " Anderson recalled for the Georgia
Straight in a phone interview. "And he said, 'I would say that 85
percent of our business is to people who use cannabis for medical
purposes.' "

Anderson cited this conversation to underscore who will likely be
impacted heavily by Canada's intensified war against marijuana.

On November 6, amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
imposing mandatory minimum prison sentences for pot offences came into
force. For example, possession of at least six cannabis plants is now
punishable with six to nine months of imprisonment. If the same
offence was committed for trafficking, the maximum penalty is
increased to 14 years.

"Health Canada estimates that there are 400,000 Canadians that are
using cannabis for medical purposes, but only 14,000 of them are
licensed," Anderson noted.

On the same day that the legal changes took effect, voters in Colorado
approved a law amendment allowing adults to grow up to six plants.

Also on the November 6 American election day, Washington-state voters
okayed the licensing of recreational-marijuana growing, processing,
and retail sales. And on November 20, researchers at UBC and SFU
released a report suggesting that if the cannabis industry was
regulated in B.C., it could generate $2.5 billion in tax and licensing
revenue over five years.

For Anderson, the new mandatory minimum jail time for pot crimes in
Canada is a "retrogressive step".

Changes to the drug laws are part of the Safe Streets and Communities
Act approved by the Conservative majority in Parliament last spring.
The omnibus crime measure consolidated a number of bills that
previously didn't pass.

One of these was Bill C-15, which contained mandatory minimums for
marijuana offences. Quebec MP Justin Trudeau, now the front-runner in
the race for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, voted in
favour of the measure in 2009. For this, Canada's self-styled Prince
of Pot, Marc Emery, blasted Trudeau as a "fuckin' hypocrite", claiming
that the two of them smoked pot together in the past.

However, in a talk with high-school students in Charlottetown on
November 13, Trudeau declared that he is a "huge supporter of
decriminalization". Trudeau needs to convince activists like Steve
Finlay of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Canada. "I do not have
faith yet in Justin Trudeau's understanding or commitment of it,"
Finlay told the Straight by phone.

Kirk Tousaw is the executive director of the Beyond Prohibition
Foundation. "Whether Mr. Trudeau sincerely believes that cannabis
should be legalized because he understands the issue or whether he has
been led there as a result of public opinion and the shifting tides in
the United States, I don't know," Tousaw told the Straight in a phone
interview. "I'm not sure that it particularly matters to me, because
at the end of the day, what people advocate for is legislative change.
And if we get there because politicians want to get elected or if we
get there because politicians actually embrace a scientific and
rational analysis of the harms and failures of cannabis prohibition,
I'm just happy if we get there."
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