ConservativesOfficial stance: Possession and Sales of Marijuana is a Criminal Offense
Despite Harper’s recent announcement that getting tough on drug crimes ‘wasn’t working,’ he is still acting to bring in laws to further criminalize cannabis and impose sentencing measures that are stricter than those given to convicted pedophiles.
However, while the Conservative government has decided to copy the failed American tough on crime agenda – as confirmed by Texas Republicans in the United States, one of his senators, Pierre Claude Nolin has stood on the side of legalization of marijuana back in 2002 when a senate committee made a study into the effectiveness of Canada’s drug laws.
In the summary of the report co-authored by Nolin, we find on page 36 that he wrote:
“The Commission was also concerned that legalization would mean increased use, among the young in particular. We have not legalized cannabis, and we have one of the highest rates in the world. Countries adopting a more liberal policy have, for the most part, rates of usage lower than ours, which stabilized after a short period of growth. Thirty years later, we note that:
It is time to recognize what is patently obvious: our policies have been ineffective, because they are poor policies.”
- Billions of dollars have been sunk into enforcement without any greater effect. There are more consumers, more regular users and more regular adolescent users;
- Billions of dollars have been poured into enforcement in an effort to reduce supply, without any greater effect. Cannabis is more available than ever, it is cultivated on a large scale, even exported, swelling coffers and making organized crime more powerful; and
- There have been tens of thousands of arrests and convictions for the possession of cannabis and thousands of people have been incarcerated. However, use trends remain totally unaffected and the gap the Commission noted between the law and public compliance continues to widen.
CANNABIS: OUR POSITION FOR A CANADIAN PUBLIC POLICYIn an address made in Quebec City in 2001, Nolin placed a great deal of doubt on the prohibition approach to dealing with public policy surrounding cannabis.
REPORT OF THE SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ILLEGAL DRUGS
Chaired by Pierre Claude Nolin.
“I will close by stating that, should the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs uses as its starting point that the current prohibition-based public policies are a failure, this is not a sign of lack of objectivity or rigour. On the contrary, this very statement is what imposed upon us the objective we set ourselves: to carry out an in-depth examination of the issue. The individual and societal damage done by drugs and by public policies relating to drugs are sufficiently significant to make us realize that the time has come for such an examination; this alone must direct the public debate.”
LiberalsOfficial stance: Marijuana should be legalized and regulated
In the January convention, over 77% of Liberals voted to legalize marijuana which would make way to saving $1 billion in the current cost of maintaining our prohibition approach to cannabis and would regulate and tax it as a product similar to alcohol and tobacco.
The Liberals started the move toward decriminalization in the 1990s as they allowed medical use of marijuana to become legal on prescription.
Liberals hope the new stance on marijuana will gain them ground among center-left wing youth.
“Mr. Mulcair would continue to punish pot smokers, would continue the Harper war on drugs _ a war even Mr. (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper now admits is ‘not working.’ … Only the Liberal party will take Canada in a new direction and end Mr. Harper’s failed war on drugs,” said Samuel Lavoie, president of the Young Liberals.
New DemocratsOfficial stance: Use of Marijuana should not be legal, but consequences of possession and sales should be minimized.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s spokesman George Soule released a statement confronting questions floating around Mulcair’s view of marijuana policy.
“But be very clear that Thomas Mulcair does not believe that anyone should be going to jail for possession of just a small amount of pot. Criminalization is not the answer for any area of social policy.”
However, on Global TV, shortly before winning the leadership race, Mulcair said decriminalizing marijuana would be a “mistake because the information that we have right now is that the marijuana that’s on the market is extremely potent and can actually cause mental illness.”
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