Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jul 2005
Source: Leduc Representative (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 Leduc Representative
Author: Russell Barth
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Dear Editor:

Now that the same sex marriage issue has been settled (more or less), 
the Liberals will probably want to push forward with their 
alternative penalty legislation regarding marijuana, or as they keep 
erroneously calling it, decriminalization.

The problems with this new legislation are many. The fact that the 
proposed fines are lower for youths than for adults suggests the 
Liberals think it's okay for kids to use pot. Most Canadians think 
cannabis should be regulated so that its use is restricted to adults.

Legalization and regulation would accomplish that, the Liberal's 
proposed legislation would actually make it easier for kids to access cannabis.

The proposed legislation would increase the penalty for growing to an 
astonishing 14 years! Rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault, even 
incest will draw a lesser penalty. Karla Homolka only got 12 years, 
and she is free. This new sentencing policy will scare off the mom 
'n' pop growers, and hand exclusive growing rights to those people 
who are rich, crazy, brave, or heavily armed enough to take a risk 
that big -- i.e. organized crime.

Canadians already spend about $2 billion annually on enforcement, 
courts, incarceration and corrections -- and we have nothing to show 
for it but a bigger and more dangerous black market than ever in the 
history of Canada. The Liberals want to spend even more taxpayer's 
dollars on this absurd and failing policy.

The senate committee report on drugs from 2002 suggested the 
government fully legalize and regulate cannabis, generate billions in 
tax revenue, and use police and correctional resources on more 
important issues. The Fraser Institute crunched the numbers, and 
estimated our domestic cannabis market could raise $3 billion 
annually in tax revenue. This tax revenue market could save our 
ailing beef farmers, boost our military, and increase healthcare and 
educational funding.

In the spring of 2003, the law prohibiting the possession of cannabis 
was found by an Ontario Superior Court judge to be "of no force and 
effect." This was later overturned on appeal, but in Canada a law 
must be legislated back into existence, it cannot be resurrected by 
another court. As a result, the police are still enforcing laws that 
technically don't really exist any more.

Health Canada's medical marijuana access program recently released 
their new regulations, and they still failed to comply with a number 
of court orders. This also puts the laws prohibiting cannabis on very 
shaky ground.

Russell Barth

Educators For Sensible Drug Policy Ottawa, Ont.
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