Saturday, April 22, 2017

NORML director: Canada 'addicted to prohibition'

Canada will legalize pot, after arresting a bunch of people for pot offences first: Neil Macdonald - CBC News | Opinion - Neil Macdonald:

April 19, 2017 - "'Too many Canadians,' declares the Liberal Party of Canada on its website, 'end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts' of marijuana.... Enforcement of cannabis law ... 'traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses'....

"Well said.... So. What's the government's solution?

"Well, it intends to continue arresting, prosecuting and criminalizing Canadians who commit this minor and non-violent offence, at least for another year or so. Young Canadians are particularly vulnerable to arrest.

"Why keep criminalizing? Good question, and the CBC's Carol Off asked it during an interview with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.... In response, the minister delivered this clanging non-sequitur:

"'Well, we're working on delivering our campaign promise to legalize cannabis, strictly regulate and restrict access to it with the ultimate objective to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals. . . "

"So Off asked again.... Not once in that As It Happens interview did Wilson-Raybould explain why the government intends to keep on criminalizing Canadians so unfairly.... Instead, literally every second time she opened her mouth, she re-spouted the line about 'strictly regulating and restricting access'....

"Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a parliamentary lifer who mastered the art of repetitive dronetalk sometime back in the last millennium, was out peddling more or less the same line, but with an added warning: Not only will the government continue to criminalize Canadians for what it considers a trifling offence, enforcement will be vigorous.

"'Existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected,' Goodale declared. 'This must be an orderly transition. It is not a free-for-all.'

"Why the government cannot simply decide to invoke prosecutorial and police discretion, and cease enforcing the cannabis laws it considers unjust, was not explained. Why that would necessarily be a 'free for all' also went unexplained.

"And Goodale went even further. All those Canadians who were prosecuted successfully in the past for this trifling, minor, non-violent offence will continue to bear the burden of a criminal record, even though this government says such prosecutions were wrong.... Goodale was explicit: there will be no blanket pardon. Again, no explanation. He was too busy administering stern warnings about continued enforcement, and, of course, 'strictly regulating and restricting access' once the law is finally changed.

"All of this is to satisfy conservative Canadians who, even though they probably can't explain it, continue to believe smoking pot should be a crime.

"Craig Jones, director of the Canadian chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says that 'after 50 years of intense propaganda, we are essentially addicted to prohibition. It's the only way we know'....

"As for the government's strange desire to keep arresting and prosecuting Canadians for possession, Jones says: 'It's hard to extricate yourself from a policy error.'"

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