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Petitioning Leader, Conservative Party of Canada / Chef, Parti Conservateur du Canada Stephen Harper and 4 others

Federal Legalization of Cannabis in Canada

       This petition is in support of the federal legalization of cannabis in Canada. The purpose of this petition is to advocate for legalization and to encourage discussion on the issue within a democratic framework leading up to the 2015 federal election. We hope that this election will culminate in a tipping point on the issue of marijuana prohibition in the favour of legalization. Since the early 20th century Canada has predominately pursued discriminatory, ideological and punitive policy regarding the role of marijuana in Canadian society. One reporter from the Toronto Star described marijuana’s initial scheduling as follows: “There was no science used to justify the laws instituted 90 years ago, just a mess of panic, racism and accident that has metastasized over time.”[1].

       The Canadian citizenry as a whole is affected by the illegality of marijuana as it contributes to extraordinary financial strain by way of police enforcement, use of judicial systems, overcrowding at correctional facilities, and furthermore: feeds organized criminality. In addition, the cost of enforcing marijuana legislation is estimated to be anywhere between $300 million to $500 million annually[2]. Such incompatible policy is not indicative of responsible democratic government and ought to have been corrected decades ago rather than imposing punitive measures rooted in fear and discrimination.

       The legalization of marijuana, as witnessed in Colorado, will not only generate revenue, but could offer a surplus revenue—thus providing Canadian provinces with an additional source of funds to put back into the economy rather than fuel the criminal undercurrent. Legalizing marijuana and having it government-controlled would ensure that the money made would not benefit organized crime, but rather the community. Regulations and standards could be put in place to ensure that only legal adults would be able to purchase marijuana, as well as providing a safeguard against having their product contaminated with harmful chemicals.

Evidence that current prohibition policy is not working:

- Significant evidence suggests that maintaining and expanding drastic drug policy is far more detrimental

- Over the past forty-three years the Canadian government has failed to implement recommendations supported by: government committees; social and scientific evidence; the contributions of social organizations, and sentiments of the citizenry.

- More precisely Canada has irrationally directed its’ drug policies in the completely opposite manner echoing mistakes that have already been witnessed from the USA’s War on Drugs.

2002 Report of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs

- “[e]arly drug legislation was largely based on a moral panic, racist sentiment and a notorious absence of debate.”[3]. The report details the failures of current and past drug enforcement strategy, particularly towards marijuana.

- “A look at trends in cannabis use, both among adults and young people, forces us to admit that current policies are ineffective.”[4]

- “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…. [5]

- Recommended “…the Government of Canada amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to create a criminal exemption scheme for the production and sale of cannabis under the authority of a license”[6].

Statistics Canada

- The rate of police-reported drug crime in Canada has been consistently driven by cannabis offences […] most notably possession.

- Among the over 100,000 drug-related incidents identified by police in 2007, 62% involved cannabis. Of these, three-quarters were for possession[7]

- 2010 and 2011 saw increases in cannabis related offences surging past 77, 000 annually[8], effectively ending the declining nature observed since 2002.

- A consistent commonality with the enforcement of punitive cannabis legislation is that large portions of drug related arrests and charges continue to be for marijuana and many of those for possession

Evidence of the positive impact of legalization

United States and Colorado

- The US now has 27 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized medical marijuana and/or decriminalized possession [9]

- Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use and sale of cannabis with Alaska and Oregon to follow in 2016[10]

- After a successful first year of retail sales the state of Colorado has accumulated over $50 million in marijuana taxes, licenses, and fees according to the Colorado Department of Revenue[11]

- Furthermore the first $40 million of tax revenue is slated to be put towards school construction and additional revenue to educational and treatment initiatives[12].

- In the USA the War on Drugs has cumulatively cost over $1 trillion dollars[13]

- Additionally the US has incurred over 45 million arrests since Nixon declared a War on Drugs in 1971[14].

- “U.S. prison population has grown by almost 800% since 1980, and federal prisons are operating at nearly 40% above capacity.”[15].

- The Harper Government seems to have reinvigorated a punitive stance on marijuana with the recent passing of Bill C-10 in 2012 as part of a larger omnibus crime bill with the inclusion of mandatory minimum sentences for growing more than 5 cannabis plants[16].

- A survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that marijuana usage among high school students had dropped[17].

- In 2009, 25% of students had used marijuana in the past month, whereas in 2013, only 20% had. Similarly, in 2009, 45% of students admitted to ever having used marijuana, and once again in 2013, that number dropped to 37%[18].

- In the first quarter of 2014, violent crimes in Colorado were down 6.9% compared with the same period in 2013, and property crime was down 11.1%[19].

- The initial reports show reduced usage in teens, reduction in crime rates, and increased revenue suggesting it is increasingly difficult to state marijuana legalization would not be a benefit to Canadian society.

- If Canada implemented a similar but unique approach funds from the sale of marijuana could be funneled back into the community to provide better services, better education, and provide additional resources.

 

Weed Be Better Together.

 

 

 

 



[1] Allen, K. (2013, December 1). Why Canada banned pot (science had nothing to do with it). thestar.com Canada.
[2],3,4,5,6 Nolin, C., Kenny, C. (2002). Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy Report of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
[7] Statistics Canada. (2009). Table 3 Police-reported cannabis offences, by type of offence, Canada, 1977 to 2007
[8] Statistics Canada. (2013). Table 4 Police-reported crime for selected offences, Canada, 2010 and 2011
[9],10 Boyette, C., Wilson, J. (2015, January 7). It’s 2015: Is weed legal in your state? CNN.
[11] Department of Revenue. (2015). Colorado Marijuana Tax Data.
[12] Phillips, K. (2014, March 11). It's No Toke: Colorado Pulls In Millions In Marijuana Tax Revenue. Forbes
[13] Branson, R. (2012, December 7). War on drugs a trillion-dollar failure. CNN.
[14] MacQueen, K. (2013, June 10). Why it’s time to legalize marijuana. Macleans.
[15] Merica, D, & Perez, E. (2013, August 12). Eric Holder seeks to cut mandatory minimum drug sentences. CNN
[16] Cohen, T. (2012, March 12). Tories use majority to pass omnibus crime bill. National Post.
[17],18 Nelson, S. (2014). Pot use among Colorado teens appears to drop after legalization. US News. Aug 7, 2014.
[19] Delamore, E. (2014). Study: Marijuana legalization doesn't increase crime. MSNBC. April 15, 2014.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Leader, Conservative Party of Canada / Chef, Parti Conservateur du Canada
    Stephen Harper
  • Prime Minister of Canada/Premier ministre du Canada
    Justin Trudeau
  • Leader, Green Party of Canada / Chef, Parti Vert du Canada
    Elizabeth May
  • Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada / Chef, Nouveau Parti démocratique du Canada
    Tom Mulcair
  • Justice Minister of Canada
    Hon. Peter MacKay


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