Saturday, June 05, 2010

Potential Liberal Policy: Decriminalizing Marijuana

In light of the upcoming Liberal Policy Convention in Vancouver I will be posting potential policy proposals for criticism. All comments are welcome and encouraged.

POLICY RESOLUTION – Decriminalization of Marijuana

WHEREAS in regards to cannabis possession the term decriminalization is used to describe laws which reduce penalties for small amounts for personal use to penalties other than imprisonment;

WHEREAS previous Liberal governments recognized that the lives, education, and careers of thousands of people are damaged by the stigmatising experience of arrest for possessing small amounts of cannabis and the recording of a criminal conviction for such offences is a penalty that is out of proportion to the nature of the offence;

WHEREAS though Canada must acknowledge its geographical position and that it has signed international agreements that require cannabis to remain illegal, such agreements do not necessitate the continued decriminalization of the substance as has been the case with other signatory nations;

WHEREAS a majority of Canadians support reducing the penalties associated with individual cannabis use and a significant proportion of Canadians have tried cannabis. According to an April 15 2010 Angus-Reid poll 53% of Canadians support the legalization of Marijuana, with 61% in BC, Alberta 59% and Ontario 57%; and according to the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey 44.5% of Canadians have tried Marijuana at least once in their lifetime and 14.1% of Canadians regularly use the drug;

WHEREAS numerous studies in comparing the use rates of districts and countries and their respective laws prohibiting cannabis have determined cannabis use does not increase with less control. The British Medical Journal in 2002 and the Journal of Public Health Policy in 2000 stated that evidence suggests that use is not increased by less intensive control, citing 11 American states that effectively decriminalized cannabis use in the 1970s and the decriminalization efforts in the Netherlands whose use did not rise beyond that experienced by comparable states in which it was prohibited.

BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada encourages the government to decriminalize the possession and cultivation of not more than thirty grams of cannabis for personal use while continuing to make cannabis an illegal substance. Quantities below thirty grams only warranting fines while holding larger quantities and trafficking in any amount to remain a crime.


I predict some will suggest decriminalization isn't going far enough or that decriminalization is pointless, however due to various international agreements Canada is a signatory to, it is restricted from legalizing marijuana. Furthermore due to Canada's proximity to the United States, I would argue legalization is not possible in the short-term.


Volkov said...

Good idea, written out well, but a standard no-go, even if the Liberals wanted to. As you noted, its not possible in the short term to do it, not while the US is in the "war" it is. said...

I meant to suggest legalization is not feasible while decriminalization is.

Volkov said...

Oh, well either way my point stands; either legalization or decriminalization will bring the same consequences. Until the US becomes a little more lenient, any action we do will lead to some problems. said...

Well that's a valid point, however I think there's enough of a difference between decriminalisation (no jail time, but fines for small amounts) and legalization (no punishments whatsoever) that the US would not fight Canadian decriminalization.

Brent said...

Portugal decriminalized possession of everything a few years back. Deaths from overdoses went down, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis infection rates went down significantly and overall drug use either stayed the same or dropped. So, no, decriminalizing marijuana isn't going far enough, but it seems to me that it'd be a great first step. At the very least, it would repeal a policy that has overwhelmingly criminalized women, minority groups and young Canadians and that is becoming impossible to enforce, both financially and in terms of manpower.

It's just too bad Michael Ignatieff is still buying all the 1950s propaganda. said...

Brent I agree with you, I think this is a necessary first step and legalization is just too large of a move right now.

Annie... said...

Was it not decriminalized a few years ago , under the Liberals? said...

No it was not, it came close in 2003 and 2006 but was ended prematurely due to the 2003 prorogation and the 2006 election.

CfSR said...

Don't make me go to Convention and sound like an old fart.

Cannabis is the number one money maker for organized crime.

Decriminalization reduces the risk for pot smokers and increases the market for organized criminal groups.

If you want to strike a blow against organized crime, support legalization and distribution of a product that isn't completely controlled by organized crime. said...

CfSR that is an opinion widely held so don't feel bad for having it, however it does rest on an incorrect premise.

You suggest that decriminalizing cannabis will increase organized crime's market however in every study that has compared a state or country before and after decriminalization cannabis use did not increase and if it did not increase how then could organized crime thus benefit?

If anything the reduction in penalties under decriminalization would motivate ordinary Canadians to grow their own and thus further down the line increase the likelihood that full legalization would be politically possible. As of right now because of international treaties Canada cannot make it legal.

Antinomian said...

One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to the ongoing open season on hippies, commies, and non-whites in the war on drugs. Cops get good performance reviews for shooting fish in a barrel. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. Behold, it’s all good. When Eve ate the apple, she knew a good apple, and an evil prohibition. Canadian Marc Emery is being extradited to prison for helping American farmers reduce U. S. demand for Mexican pot.

The CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) reincarnates Al Capone, endangers homeland security, and throws good money after bad. Fiscal policy burns tax dollars to root out the number-one cash crop in the land, instead of taxing sales. Society rejected the plague of prohibition, but it mutated. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

Nixon passed the CSA on the false assurance that the Schafer Commission would later justify criminalizing his enemies, but he underestimated Schafer’s integrity. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA shut down research, and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use. Former U.K. chief drugs advisor Prof. Nutt was sacked for revealing that non-smoked cannabis intake is scientifically healthy.

The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership or an act of Congress to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. God’s children’s free exercise of religious liberty may include entheogen sacraments to mediate communion with their maker.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common-law holds that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The Founding Fathers undersigned that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration. Liberty is prerequisite for tracking drug-use intentions and outcomes.

JJLib said...

Marijuana is ALREADY de facto legal in California. They will have a referendum this fall on whether that should be made official, but anyone who's been there knows that you can get marijuana freely and easily just by telling a doctor you have a headache (what's legal is medical marijuana and all it requires is a doctor's note, rules are FAR less stringent than we regulate medical marijuana in Canada). The Bush administration authorized raids of these medical clinics that offered marijuana to whoever came in the door with a simple doctor's note, but Obama has let them be and so they are now all over the place in California.

If California can legalize why can't Canada?

As far as those who say the US would flip out at just Canada decriminalizing, well marijuana has ALREADY been decriminalized in Mexico as a means of combatting drug crime. Didn't hear the United States complain about that recent change in policy, did we? In fact there remain discussions in Mexico about outright legalization as well given that decriminalization has essentially failed to quell the crime.