The Fraud of Pot Decriminalization 

The Fraud of Pot Decriminalization 
Posted by CN Staff on July 29, 2004 at 09:19:28 PT
By Dan Gardner, The National Post 
Source: National Post 
With Paul Martin's announcement that the government will reintroduce legislation decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, the old debate has resumed. On one side are the hardliners who say that any softening of the marijuana laws puts the nation at risk of becoming the world's biggest hippie commune. On the other side are those who think it's absurd that a 16 year old caught with a joint should be saddled with a criminal record -- or that an adult should be threatened with jail simply because he chooses to relax on a Friday night with a puff of marijuana instead of a belt of scotch.
Every poll shows a clear majority of Canadians endorses the government's plan -- which would make possession and use of small amounts of marijuana a non-criminal offence, like a speeding ticket. And a good many within that majority, including the National Post's editorial board, would go further: As a Post editorial put it last week, decriminalization should be "only a first step" toward the full legalization of marijuana.My sympathies are entirely with the Post's editorial board. But I'm afraid I cannot share its enthusiasm for decriminalization: Contrary to what the government likes to say and just about everyone thinks, decriminalization will not mean less persecution of midnight tokers. In fact, it will lead to more enforcement and punishment. Indeed, that's what the government expects and wants.In January, 2003, I used the Access to Information Act to request all Department of Justice files relating to decriminalization and marijuana policy. After a series of delays and missed deadlines, I finally received a thick stack of paper last February.Leafing through the documents, several facts quickly became apparent. First, in deciding to make reforms, the government did not conduct a serious review of marijuana policy. Nor were options other than decriminalization mentioned, except in passing.This omission is particularly bizarre because: In 2002, a Senate special committee delivered a comprehensive 650-page report calling for the full legalization of marijuana possession and the licensing of marijuana producers. International experts, those who agreed with the conclusions as well as those who didn't, lauded the report as one of the most rigorous studies ever produced. Yet the government ignored it. The few references to the report in the Department of Justice documents I examined consist mainly of talking points, which advise government figures to tell the media: "The Senate report will be a very helpful contribution to the development of Canada's drug strategy." There's no discussion of the report's arguments and conclusions. No analysis of its voluminous evidence. No substance at all.When I told Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin, the chairman of the committee, that the report had been ignored, he was shocked. He said he had personally briefed then-justice minister Martin Cauchon. According to Mr. Nolin, "he told me he was to ask his department to review the report and give him an analysis." Snipped: Complete Article: National Post (Canada)Author: Dan Gardner, The National Post Published: Thursday, July 29, 2004Copyright: 2004 National Post Contact letters nationalpost.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links' Bill To Decrim Marijuana Was Bad Policy Police on Grow-Ops: Don't You Believe It
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Comment #2 posted by WolfgangWylde on July 29, 2004 at 16:57:30 PT
I'm glad SOMEONE is pointing out this...
...fraud. When (not if) this "decriminalization" passes, with its draconian crackdown on cultivation and trafficking (with mandatory minimums and asset forfeiture), not to mention the opportunity to vastly increase the legal hassling of pot smokers without the attendant cost and drain on the criminal justice system, Marijuana Prohibition, and the Drug War, will be as firmly entrenched in Canada as it is in the U.S., where all sides profit from the drug trade.
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on July 29, 2004 at 11:02:57 PT
We are making an impact
Here's a paragraph from an LA Times editorial today" The Sentencing Reform Act and later legislation squeezed out nearly all the authority that judges once had to fit the punishment to the crime. This scheme has created unfairness of a different sort, particularly with politically charged crimes like drug offenses. As a result, drug traffickers spend six years behind bars, on average, compared with three for those convicted of manslaughter. One result, as the Justice Department reported this week, is that a record 6.9 million Americans were behind bars, on probation or on parole last year, at a cost of billions"Politically charged cimes like drug offenses -- they are listening to their readers after all.
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