Sober End To Year of Pot Activism Highs

Sober End To Year of Pot Activism Highs
Posted by CN Staff on December 23, 2003 at 12:58:55 PT
By Benson Lee, Canadian Press 
Source: Canadian Press 
Toronto -- For a while it looked like we were poised to become Amsterdam West: cafes with patrons openly enjoying joints alongside lattes, activists toking up outside police stations with impunity and government plans to make marijuana available to the chronically ill. But while that pipedream has apparently gone up in smoke, the ongoing debate over the sweet leaf's place in Canadian society -- whether for medicine or for pleasure -- promises to grow more heated in the coming year. 
With the federal government courting decriminalization, still a thorny issue among the ruling Liberals themselves, Canadians have found reason to voice their opinions on the contentious topic. An Ipsos-Reid poll of 1,001 Canadians conducted in May suggested that 55 per cent of respondents did not believe smoking marijuana should be a criminal offence. Those advocating decriminalization say it doesn't make sense to saddle people with criminal records for being busted for simple possession, such as smoking a joint. They also say it will reduce traffic in an already congested court system. Those against decriminalization say marijuana is a so-called "gateway" drug that will cause users to progress to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. They also say it will harm relations with the United States, which remains in War on Drugs mode. But things have been complicated by the federal government's cautious steps toward providing cannabis to the ill. Proponents say marijuana stimulates the appetite, relieves pain and reduces stress -- although the medical community remains divided over such claims. The decriminalization movement burst into the forefront this year when an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled in May that possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana was no longer against the law in the province. A lawyer had successfully argued that since there was no effective program for sick people to possess medical marijuana without breaking the law, then the law didn't prohibit possession. Police organizations in Ontario subsequently said they wouldn't lay charges for simple possession until the laws were clarified. The court decision prompted similar rulings around the country and opened the floodgates for recreational users to enjoy a jubilant summer of toking freely -- even in certain public cafes. B.C. cannabis guru Marc Emery, who publishes Cannabis Culture magazine and sells marijuana seeds online, went on a coast-to-coast Tour de Pot this summer, holding rallies and lighting up outside police stations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Moncton, N.B., Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John's, Nfld., practically daring the cops to arrest him -- which they sometimes did. The Canadawide case of reefer madness was apparently contagious. Former prime minister Jean Chretien, who tried unsuccessfully to fast-track a decriminalization bill before leaving office earlier this month, seemed to amuse the country when he suggested in an October interview that he might puff on pot one day. "Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal," Chretien mused. "I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand." Chretien had argued for fines instead of jail sentences for simple possession, while adding that growers and traffickers would still face stiff penalties. Although the bill was expected to pass this fall, Chretien officially ended his last legislative session in mid-November, leaving it in limbo. The news got worse for pot smokers when an Ontario court made simple possession illegal again in October while firming up the rules on how medical users could obtain their cannabis supply. "In terms of decriminalization, it was a huge setback," said Alan Young, a Toronto lawyer, law professor and self-styled cannabis crusader. "In terms of slow movement toward improving the medical program, it was a step forward. But we lost a lot of momentum at the end of this year on decriminalization by having the October court case not consider invalidation of the criminal prohibition as a response." Two days before Christmas, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled to uphold a federal law prohibiting possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying it's up to Parliament to decide whether to decriminalize the drug. A key question was whether Parliament has the constitutional right to punish marijuana possession, given the lack of proven serious harms from its use. Another was whether federal law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by imposing criminal penalties for possession. "We conclude that it is within Parliament's legislative jurisdiction to criminalize the possession of marijuana, should it choose to do so," said the 82-page ruling. "Equally, it is open to Parliament to decriminalize or otherwise modify any aspect of the marijuana laws that it no longer considers to be good public policy." The ruling didn't sit well with pot activists. "I was dreaming of a green Christmas but they Grinched out on us," said David Malmo-Levine, a self-styled pot freedom crusader in Vancouver. "Their hearts are two sizes too small." Prime Minister Paul Martin has said he supports decriminalization in principle and that he will reintroduce the legislation in the new year -- but likely with amendments to make it tougher. Despite Ottawa's good intentions, efforts to supply medical users have proved inept as the government-sanctioned marijuana first made available in August has been widely criticized for its inferior quality. Some users demanded refunds, calling the weed "disgusting" and "unsuitable for human consumption." Others said it was too weak to be effective. One man even said it made him vomit. One frustrated user found the quality so poor that he rejected the government shipments and applied for a growing licence instead. Philippe Lucas, director of Canadians for Safe Access, a Victoria-based patients' rights group pressing for a safe, effective supply of marijuana, said independent lab analyses of the government cannabis showed high concentrations of toxic lead and arsenic. "I've tried the government cannabis, and I can attest to its incredibly poor quality," said Lucas, who is allowed to use marijuana to deal with the side-effects of hepatitis C. "Not only is it of poor quality, but it's a potentially dangerous product. When you're talking about giving something to people with critical or chronic illnesses, I find that to be really inexcusable." Health Canada maintains it tested the cannabis extensively before allowing it to be distributed to medical users -- but it was never tested on people. Spokeswoman Catherine Saunders said Health Canada isn't planning to make changes to the product despite the complaints of some users. However, she pointed out that clinical trials are underway at Montreal's McGill University to determine the medical benefits of marijuana, and the results may influence future policy. As the medical community continues to debate the pros and cons of cannabis, statistics suggest that recreational pot-smoking is on the rise in Canada -- especially among younger people. In a 2001 study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, 11.2 per cent of Canadian adults surveyed said they used marijuana in the previous 12 months, compared with 8.6 per cent in 1998. Canadians aged 18 to 29 were at the head of the pack, with 26.8 per cent smoking pot compared with 18.3 per cent in 1996. While the trend seems to indicate a growing acceptance of marijuana, Young believes 2004 will be better for medical users than recreational users. "I see next year as the year that we truly advance our understanding of marijuana as medicine," he said. "In terms of recreational use, I have no confidence the government will return to their proposal.... I do see a bit of a backlash in the initial months as public officials reassert their authority in this area." That means no more smoking up outside police stations. "One will have to be a bit more discreet and careful in terms of the use of marijuana as a recreational substance," Young advised. Source: Canadian Press Author: Benson Lee, Canadian Press Published: Tuesday, December 23, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Canadian PressRelated Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Supreme Court Upholds Legal Ban on Pot Ban is Constitutional, Supreme Court Rules Rules Marijuana Possession Illegal
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Comment #25 posted by yippierevolutionary on December 24, 2003 at 10:15:41 PT
Virgil you should post an Mp3!
I thought that you were p4me! You stopped talking about LB&O.sux and your bumper sticker ideas so I wasn't sure. In Dante's Inferno Virgil represented human reason did he not?Free Cannabis for Everyone!!
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Comment #24 posted by Virgil on December 24, 2003 at 09:40:46 PT
Free Cannabis For Everyone is a line in a real song that I had written. It is my only song and it is even on a CD here somewhere.It is something for the choir to sing and I am glad to see you adopt it. The same would be true for SOL as in The Schedule One Lie.You can read about it in comment12 and hear FoM sing in comment13-
If you read the thread it is where I express my intention of changing names from p5me to Virgil.FCFO.
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Comment #23 posted by yippierevolutionary on December 24, 2003 at 08:24:22 PT
I don't want to take credit...
In one of my posts I said Free Cannabis For Everyone was my argument, but that is wrong. P4me is the first person I have heard say decrim isnt good enough, Cannabis has to be free for everyone. I really liked that no apologies line of thinking. I personally believe that most of the problems of this world are due to the ability to horde stuff which leads to perpetual scarcity because you can always horde more. People say money is the root of all evil, but I think scarcity is the root of all evil. I used to know guys who would steal a CD from someone when they cost 20 dollars each, now that Music is Free that would never happen.That is why I think our governments main goal of existence should be to make as many things as possible available to everyone for free. 
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Comment #22 posted by jose melendez on December 24, 2003 at 03:47:33 PT
glass ceilings require steel umbrellas
Hooray! David Malmo-Levine is outraged and has started to expose the law as fraud by publicly dealing marijuana as medicine to healthy people. The outspoken Canadian cannabis activist decries the stigmatization of recreational medicine use, thought, expression, free association, taste and pursuit. Live on Pot-tv moments after the 6-3 decision, David, in the middle of a press conference, offered and sold a joint for $5 to Richard Cowan, as a test ot the law.See:
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Comment #21 posted by E_Johnson on December 24, 2003 at 01:17:56 PT
The media is herding thoughts -- that's a good one.How true.
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Comment #20 posted by E_Johnson on December 24, 2003 at 01:14:38 PT
FoM, Rush is headed for a fall
He's trying to make sense of his situation according to his normal belief system and that is going to fail. Maybe for Christmas we should all chip in and get him another stay at rehab and a membership in the Drug Policy Alliance.
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Comment #19 posted by Virgil on December 23, 2003 at 19:10:59 PT
You can go to a happy place
I am not an agent of DU or anything, but you know Kucinich is a Democrat and they speak of him at DU. He had a big bump in his fundraising and there is some excitement in this thread- grass is a dangerous beneficial plant. It causes homelessness and prison rape and orphans in foster care. We need stiffer penalties to fight the harms of laughing grass.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on December 23, 2003 at 19:02:23 PT
I saw him ranting on the news about it today. He sounds like he doesn't understand this is the drug war in action. 
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Comment #17 posted by mayan on December 23, 2003 at 18:56:55 PT
Prosecutors Get OK To Check Limbaugh's Medical Records: wonder how Rush likes the war on drugs now? 
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Comment #16 posted by sukoi on December 23, 2003 at 17:32:26 PT
Virgil and SystemGoneDown
“I have found that DU has plenty of leads to run down and is a good source of news. Free Republic has a lot of good leads up to because of its volume, but their you have to put up with hate and deadbrainlessness.”That is why I like Americas debate so much, you can argue your point (whatever that point may be) and it is kept very civil and straight forward, someone of your obvious intelligence would do very well there! I’ll see you in Alaska!SystemGoneDown, I have read something similar, I think that it was in this study, but I’ll be damned if I can find it!
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Comment #15 posted by Virgil on December 23, 2003 at 17:16:53 PT
I have found that DU has plenty of leads to run down and is a good source of news. Free Republic has a lot of good leads up to because of its volume, but their you have to put up with hate and deadbrainlessness.I have planted some thoughts in DU mainly to let people know there are other people that think like they do, but also to put opposition up to wrong thinking. It is something to do while watching television. It is just natural to try to contribute, but there is something in it for me. You get to sift through what people are thinking and what they think worth reading.I am interested in Alaska for several reasons. Yes, I have an agenda of presenting a cannabis perspective and waking people up to the thought that things are not about left and right, but about up and down and that the media is herding their thoughts.Other than that, I hope to gain other people's points of view and learn of Alaska. I am interested in what they have to say especially on ANWAR. I do hope to convert one prohibitionist in the next year. If everyone did that then there would be no prohibitionist left to convert.So yes, the silence of cannabis prohibition will be broken. More importantly, freedom will be defended. CP is just part of a systemic breakdown. And yes, I really believe we are ruled by treason. Drop in and we exchange things all along. It is just a chat room. You can come and go with the click of a mouse. 
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Comment #14 posted by DeVoHawk on December 23, 2003 at 17:14:32 PT
Marijuana is my Sub for Alcohol
There is no question that pot use lowers alcohol consumption in a good many people. I drank an incredible amount at one time. I smoked very little pot but never got high. I smoked pot 20 times over a 6 year period in high school and college but never was able to get high. I was lucky to hang out with a lot of people who did really good in school and sports so I never thought pot was bad. I finally got high one day on the way to the lake to play frisbee and hacky. Now I drink maybe 3 times a month at the locally brewery and enjoy marijuana more often. The sad thing is that my friends who get drug tested do drink much much more but would prefer to smoke. When I lived in Summit County in 94 everyone quit smoking pot to pass the drug test to work at the ski resorts to get a free ski pass; this was the only piss test I ever passed. A normal night consisted of blowing bowls, jamming music, watching board/skiing videos, and ping-pong. However, from Sept 15-Nov 15 the bars were full of locals and the level of drinking among my friends soared. It was fun drinking and dancing but the hangovers were severe. You can ski and board all day long high or sober but drinking at high altitudes is devistating on the body of this flatlander.
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Comment #13 posted by SystemGoneDown on December 23, 2003 at 17:01:21 PT
As well as weed being a better substitute for alcohol, I've heard that if you take a couple hits of cannabis after every tobocco cigarette you smoke, it actually sort of cancells out the cigarette. Is this a myth? Because I've heard it before... Also I've read Jack Herer's "Hemp Bible" book and it says that while tobacco contricts the lungs, marijuana will dialate it and can be used as a vacuum-like mechanism to clear out the lungs. So logically, if you smoke marijuana after every cigarette, it should lower your chance of radiation in your lungs from cigarettes, the main reason it is so lethal........although both tobacco and marijuana smoke are lung irritants.
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Comment #12 posted by sukoi on December 23, 2003 at 16:49:00 PT
Yippierevolutionary and Virgil
“That subsitution is critical for my argument of Free Cannabis for Everyone, it is also critical to why drug testing is dangerous (decreased pot use means increased alcohol use) Free Cannabis would mean less drinking which is socially desirable.”Yippie, you are absolutely right about that, I drank very little when I was using cannabis but when I had to quit, my drinking increased substantially.Virgil, are you specifically targeting Alaska because of their current laws? Wouldn’t it be better to go to a nation wide forum? I’ll certainly join you at the Juno forum, but if a nation wide forum would be better, the only one that I know of is Americasdebate ( and it has great moderators and there are many people there who share our beliefs/feelings. Does anyone know of a better one?  
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Comment #11 posted by Virgil on December 23, 2003 at 16:39:25 PT
You mean the one about pot being everywhere and how some day prohibition would come? It was from 1996 and I thought it was misleading because it was not dated. Of course I could just as easily be thinking of the old article at it being Thailand. All those Asian countries look alike. I remember a whole article and it did not have a link. I read it if not mistaken. Does anybody know the magic day that is the last day Asskkkroft can appeal the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
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Comment #10 posted by Virgil on December 23, 2003 at 16:30:02 PT
SGD- Welcome to Groundhog Day
It has all been said before. In California there are people given recommendation for cannabis to limit alcohol consumption. I guess it depends on your doctor if you have to be one bad off alcoholic or not.Alcohol was prohibited by amendment with cause. The fact that cannabis is a superior alternative to alcohol, is enough reason to make it legal. It has all been said before here in the remake of Groundhog Day- will be in the Juneau Empire messageboard before the night is done.
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Comment #9 posted by yippierevolutionary on December 23, 2003 at 16:27:32 PT
System gone down pot for alcholho
That subsitution is critical for my argument of Free Cannabis for Everyone, it is also critical to why drug testing is dangerous (decreased pot use means increased alcohol use) Free Cannabis would mean less drinking which is socially desirable.Virgil did you read my post about Cambodian soup?
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Comment #8 posted by sukoi on December 23, 2003 at 16:26:41 PT
I read this somewhere
I recall reading something about a study being done using cannabis as a treatment for alcohol addiction. I sure wish that I could remember where I saw it, or maybe I'm just too drunk to remember! 
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Comment #7 posted by jose melendez on December 23, 2003 at 16:15:15 PT
poison or jail is bad public policy
" . . . consider the effect of marijuana as a substitute to alcohol. "I think Barry McCaffrey was asked something about this, he laughed off the idea of a Jamaican Betty Ford clinic, or some such foolishness . . .
prohibitionists: we'll help you quit
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Comment #6 posted by SystemGoneDown on December 23, 2003 at 16:08:03 PT
An underrated aspect of marijuana legalization...
I've never heard this brought up amongst us, and I can guarantee it would never be brought up by the USG. But I'd like to consider the effect of marijuana as a substitute to alcohol. I know many alcoholics that I know for sure would give up drinking for smoking pot if it were legal and not a threat to their careers and families. Statistics show that alcohol is involved in most car accidents that result in death. Now my question is, would the rate of car accident deaths in this country drop if marijuana were legal? If so, by how much? Also, the rate of deaths from alcohol poisoning and other health problems that lead to death because of alcohol. If there's a drop, how much of a drop? And let's take into account how much domestic violence and civil disputes that wind up lethal because of alcohol...I'm trying to say that marijuana very well could have a significant social effect. It sounds cliche' that marijuana makes the world peaceful and that should warrant legalization. But take into account, the physical harm, and domestic harm, and most prolific- the car accidents that result from alcohol... Is it possible that legalizing marijuana would subsitute drug of choice in this country? And if so, will that be a positive effect?
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Comment #5 posted by Virgil on December 23, 2003 at 15:34:59 PT
I can see the rightness of the ruling
I do not know about the intellectual honesty of the reasoning that total prohibition (ironically except for medical purposes) is demonstrably justified. It all has to do with words and of course process and the times in which we live. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. It is a game of words just as prohibition means no, not ever. I can see why the government should have the right to say that because it has a duty to protect the collective good. I justify the ruling in that the United States presents a harm to the collective good if there is not total prohibition. Maybe economic warfare causes the loss of social services that results in the death of many sick people or as evil as the USG is they might introduce disease in real economic warfare as they did with Castro. Even I know that is extreme but we did try to wipe out every pig in Cuba.Just because it said the government has the right to prohibit things does not mean the people cannot bring about change. Canada has 80 years to end prohibition? If the public wanted the laws changed then why haven't they changed them. If prohibition is so terrible why haven't they changed them?. The same is true for the US.It has to do exactly with cannabis. Cannabis is the center pole in the circus of the drug wars. Reality is reality. Prohibition is not required. It is only permitted. We can change it and we will.Outside of the harm of the collective presented by angering the Wicked Prohibitionist the South that needs prohibition to fund the CIA and intervene in the affairs of other countries on the path to global wealth, I cannot see it.If it were not for the US interest the government would have still had regulation. Prohibition v regulation. Those are the words in play. Arguments that cannabis affects drivers and the state has interest is stupid. Cannabis does not cause driving. Alcohol consumption is regulate while drunk driving is prohibited. In North Carolina you can expect a fine of $4000 and with insurance and legal fees the first ticket will cost you $9500. They can put a big ouch on you for driving drunk while alcohol is not prohibited.To say people have heart problems so a healthy person cannot have soup is not intellectually sound. So the government could have regulations against this and that and finally they could not come up with enough bullshit to let a 65 year old retiree sit on the porch and have soup. They can regulate and prohibit dangerous activities without a blanket prohibition.Only because of the role of the United States can I see the prohibition justifiable. Dangerous activities could be prohibited and everything could be subject to regulation that is just one shade shy of prohibition.Everything is political and if there were a policy of governments chosing the best path for the best public good prohibition is not justifiable because even an old man on the porch that may be dying because a meteor hit his house would not be permitted to have some enhanced soup before his eyes shut for the last time.The drug wars have warped everything. The media is on it. The politicians chose it because the plutocracy needs it to intervene in other countries politics. The CIA is a terrorist organization and we speak of a war on terrorism. How do we know drugs and terrorism are related? Could be the CIA as a terrorist organization has experience in the drug trade.The government absolutely does not give a damn about drugs. We export more addiction than any country in history with the substance that defines addiction. Do we have laws that prevent someone from smoking in the room with a child so that that addiction might not pass. Fuck no. It is child abuse, but the government couldn't care less. One in three children in high school smoke tobacco illegally and when they raid the school in Goose Creek you mean they ignored their zero tolerance policy for cigarettes when an aspirin will get you expelled from school grounds. I hope you are not going to tell me they could not find a cigarette if they looked for them.I am not sure if I can deal with the reasoning of the judges, although I can see the conclusion. I still do not believe a total prohibition should be possible because I think an old man sitting on the porch should be able to have enhanced soup if he wants it.But Canada has had 80 years to change things and if prohibition is so bad they should have. It should have never been a matter before the court.In the US I challenge the sentencing for LG because even a fine of $1 is excessive if consumed in enhanced soup in the privacy of your home, much less taking your home and giving you a room.This voter litmus test. 
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Comment #4 posted by Floyd on December 23, 2003 at 14:59:30 PT
Yeah but...
I find the ironic problem here in Canada is that there isnt a huge amount of motivation for pot smokers to change the law. I want it changed, and I do my part when I can. But the truth is, unless you are dealing, or completely stupid, there is basically no chance of getting into trouble with the law (atleast locally). For example, I regularly go for a walk in town after a hard day at work and smoke a J. After doing this for 3 years I have yet to have someone so much as complain. At some point you start to wonder just how bad the status quo is. =)
 As for the U.S......good luck with that Nazi, Bush. =/
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 23, 2003 at 14:50:50 PT
Off Topic
Mad Cow Disease was found in Washington State. I thought it was worth mentioning. It was only a matter of time but here it is now.
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Comment #2 posted by SystemGoneDown on December 23, 2003 at 13:49:11 PT
What a depressing story line. I didn't even want to read this article because the story line says it all. What's next people? What can we look forward to? What is in store for us and what is the status of our legalization efforts?
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 23, 2003 at 13:15:19 PT
From The Montreal Gazette
Montrealers Reacts to Marijuana Ruling
 Charlie Fidelman, The Gazette December 23, 2003 
Pot-heads unite. The battle is far from up in smoke."The gloves are off! It’s time to fight for our rights," Marc-Boris St. Maurice of the Bloc Pot marijuana party said yesterday after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the country isn’t going to pot.The country’s highest court ruled that possession of even small amounts of marijuana remains illegal.The pot debate has dragged on for nearly 30 years now, ever since the LeDain commission recommended dropping criminal sanctions for marijuana users. The Montreal Gazette is following this story. Please read Wednesday's paper for the full story.Copyright: 2003 The Gazette
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