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  • The Need for Weed

    Canadian government moves to reduce pot penalties
    Police, U.S. officials warn of consequences

    Wednesday, May 28, 2003 Posted: 9:06 AM EDT (1306 GMT)
    Police, U.S. officials warn of consequences

    OTTAWA, Canada (Reuters) -- The Canadian government overrode objections from the United States and police groups on Tuesday and introduced legislation to end criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    Under the bill, people caught with 15 grams (half an ounce, or enough for about 15 to 30 joints) or less of cannabis would only be fined, and criminal penalties would be reduced on those growing up to 25 marijuana plants.

    "We have to ask ourselves as a society, does it make sense that a person who makes a bad choice can receive the lasting burden of a criminal conviction?" asked Justice Minister Martin Cauchon.

    "A criminal conviction can limit career opportunities and make travel to other countries difficult. These factors, coupled with the possibility of a jail sentence, amount to sanctions that are disproportionate."

    He said police would have more resources to go after large growers, flourishing especially in British Columbia and Quebec, and maximum penalties would be increased for big growers.

    But Canadian Police Association Executive Officer David Griffin said police would have nowhere near enough resources to address the rising supply and said with no minimum sentences the courts would still be able to let growers off lightly.

    "What we are looking for is to send a clear message to Canada's young people that drugs are harmful, that drugs and driving kill and that people who sell drugs to kids will go to jail," Griffin said.

    "We asked for resources. We asked for support, and what we received instead was a hastily put-together package that's held together by Band-aids and duct tape."

    U.S. anti-drug czar John Walters has warned that this law could force a clampdown at the U.S. border and thus potentially hurt the world's richest trading relationship.

    "What assurances can this government give us that its pet project on marijuana isn't going to jeopardize legitimate trade with the United States?" demanded Stephen Harper, leader of the Canadian Alliance, Parliament's largest opposition party.

    "Canada is a different place with different values," Cauchon shot back.

    A dozen U.S. states actually already have decriminalized the possession of small amounts. California, for example, provides for a fine of $100 for one ounce (28.5 grams). Ohio lets people with as much as 100 grams off with a $100 fine.

    Canada would levy a C$150 ($110) fine on adults and C$100 for youth for up to 15 grams.

    For 15 to 30 grams, the Canadian bill would give police the discretion of handing out a fine or pressing for a summary conviction which, as at present, could result in up to six months in jail -- though that is rarely imposed now.

    The Canadian Alliance's Randy White said he had been prepared to support decriminalization of 5 grams, but he said 15 grams to 30 grams would raise questions of the person's intent. "If you're talking about someone carrying 50 to 60 joints with them, I'd hardly call that minor personal possession," he said.

    Though Prime Minister Jean Chretien's Liberals have a comfortable majority in the House of Commons, the bill's passage is not in fact assured.

    Cauchon hopes it will pass by the end of the year. But the government's legislative agenda is complicated by the active race to replace Chretien as prime minister, particularly given the animosity between him and front-runner Paul Martin.

    In September the Liberals elect delegates to the party's November leadership convention. Ottawa is rife with speculation that the Parliament will simply grind to a halt in the autumn should Martin take an unassailable lead of delegates.

    Some of Martin's backers are among the loudest opponents of the marijuana bill.

  • #2
    They are getting close, but fines is no solution, especially with the price of marijuana being so high. A $100 fine for an ounce of pot when pot is ... what ... $350-$400 an ounce on the black market? That fine is to spank personal possession, but does nothing to disuade distribution and moving $400 worth of pot in your back pocket just got that much easier.

    The solution is to completely decriminalize (no fines) all simple possession below a certain amount and instead fine distribution, with possession of anything over a certain amount always qualifying as distribution.
    Get the US out of NATO, now!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by SparceMatrix
      They are getting close, but fines is no solution, especially with the price of marijuana being so high. A $100 fine for an ounce of pot when pot is ... what ... $350-$400 an ounce on the black market? That fine is to spank personal possession, but does nothing to disuade distribution and moving $400 worth of pot in your back pocket just got that much easier.

      The solution is to completely decriminalize (no fines) all simple possession below a certain amount and instead fine distribution, with possession of anything over a certain amount always qualifying as distribution.
      Good ideal SparceMatrix. It would keep prices up because of the distribution fines while ridding the system of a bunch of really non-discript cases. It prioritizes prosecution, which should be the goal in any case.

      I don't believe marijuana is a serious narcotic. I had friends in high school who's eyes were so bloodshot red, people walked up to them and just stop. Those who chose a proper path are doing fine. Others graduated to other drugs like crack and herion. However, they were always looking for a new high.
      "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

      Comment


      • #4
        Good ideal SparceMatrix. It would keep prices up because of the distribution fines while ridding the system of a bunch of really non-discript cases. It prioritizes prosecution, which should be the goal in any case.
        I'm not sure why you think fining distribution would keep prices up. My thinking is that fining distribution would keep prices down and so eliminate the motivation for distribution which is, for all effective purposes, profit. It would also take money out of the hands of people who investigate and prosecute drug abuse in the current system which does not work. This system would work not just for marijuana, but for all psychoactive plant products like cocaine and heroine as well.
        Get the US out of NATO, now!

        Comment


        • #5
          i think it should just be legalized.
          "Speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own Michael Moore, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities." - Christopher Hitchens

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SparceMatrix


            I'm not sure why you think fining distribution would keep prices up. My thinking is that fining distribution would keep prices down and so eliminate the motivation for distribution which is, for all effective purposes, profit. It would also take money out of the hands of people who investigate and prosecute drug abuse in the current system which does not work. This system would work not just for marijuana, but for all psychoactive plant products like cocaine and heroine as well.
            You have some good points. It would be better to just tax it instead of imposing fines. The consumer pays the bill in any case. If you really want to hurt the distribution system, the best option is like kid kool suggested, legalize marijuana, and install controls and taxes on businesses selling the product. This not only hurts the distributor, it helps keep the the product out the hands of children.

            If you take money out of the hands of those who investigate and prosecute people based on the current system, then who will fulfill these duties under a new process? I don't see law enforcement as the problem. Police officers don't make the laws that help clog our system. Like soldiers on a battlefield, their scope of knowledge and decision-making is limited by rules and high-level of involvement, which impedes situational awareness beyond the individual scale.

            Lawmakers are more interested in short term solutions to long term problems. When the public howls for a response, politicians go out and dress up a desk-jocky officer who's *ss is welded to the Committee chair, and give him a few lines and cameras. These individuals don't represent law enforcement (though they might say otherwise.) They are there to promote the politician's agenda, which is designed to make them look good long enough for you to cast a vote in their favor.

            Case in Point was the Assault Weapons Ban. Clinton paraded about with some officer with more stars on his shirt than a freaking galaxy contains, and he represented police chiefs all over the nation. In reality, a survey of 500 Police chiefs throughout America showed more than 70% of them felt the Weapons ban would have little effect on crime. You didn't hear that though.

            I believe we are loosing this war in part because our political leaders lack the initiative and foresight to really tackle the issues surrounding this war on drugs. Long jail sentences and prisons are important, but not the best answer. No President seems willing to stick it to foriegn governments like Mexico and Colombia. Drugs are killing Americans, financing terrorism, and threatening our society, and their only response is to send more money. There was one case in Mexico where one of it's military battalion's attacked an narcotics team conducting a raid, wiping them out. I would like to see them try that crap with an American brigade.

            Legalizing marijuna is an acceptable solution to some of our problems. However, the US government needs to act like they want to win this war.
            "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

            Comment


            • #7
              Why not legalize everything. The money pouring into the futile War on Drugs could be diverted to treatment programs and the violent criminal element within the illicity drug industry would suddenly be out of a profit motive and therefore out of funding.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tex
                Why not legalize everything. The money pouring into the futile War on Drugs could be diverted to treatment programs and the violent criminal element within the illicity drug industry would suddenly be out of a profit motive and therefore out of funding.
                Well, I don't know about that. Marijuna is one thing. Crack is another. The mortality rate for narcotics like crack, cocaine, and meth far exceed those of marijuna. People have a right to do what they wish to with their bodies. Yet, I feel that legalizing these drugs would send the wrong message resulting in an increase in drug abuse, and all the problems that plays host to.

                I don't believe Marijuna is in the same class as crack and meth. It far closer to alcohol and smoking. I believe legalizing drugs like cocaine would cause more problems than it solves. People will still be addicted to them.
                "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                Comment


                • #9
                  Drink and Tobacco kill and screw up more people's lives than drugs. That said smoking some pot is ok in my books but like all drugs should be used with caution. I have seen people mess up their lives through smoking blow everyday for years....dumb!

                  In Ireland the laws for small amounts of possession are fairly liberal, fines not prison. The real problem is with hard drugs. The papers this week say there are 13,000 Heroin users in Dublin ( pop. 1,200,00 ) how does that compare with US and Canada?
                  http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think it would be an extremely bad idea to just legalize the so-called recreational drugs for over the counter use and tax them. We have enough problems with tobacco and alcohol. People are justified in worrying about kids and other irresponsible users falling afoul of this stuff in public places. There are a lot of breakfast cereals that ought to be outlawed too.

                    One doesn't have to treat the extracts cocaine and heroine the same way as marijuana. Cocaine and heroine are both modern treatments of a plant product While opium can be dangerous, it is in no way as dangerous as heroine and coca leaves can not be injested to the point of overdose. Cocaine, heroine and any extract could always considered to be distribution and subject to a fine. And of course methadrine is a synthesis and has nothing to do with plant products.
                    Get the US out of NATO, now!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There is evidence that the Dutch experiment with the legalization of marijuana actually led to a decline in it's use.
                      To legalize it and control it in the same fashion as alcohol carries many benefits; ie reduction in the influence of the criminal element in it's distribution, a decline in it's use by the underage group, providing the consumer with a safe, known product, increase in tax revenue, etc,......
                      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There is evidence that the Dutch experiment with the legalization of marijuana actually led to a decline in it's use.
                        To legalize it and control it in the same fashion as alcohol carries many benefits; ie reduction in the influence of the criminal element in it's distribution, a decline in it's use by the underage group, providing the consumer with a safe, known product, increase in tax revenue, etc,......
                        There are a couple reasons why the Dutch solution works and wouldn't work in the US. First, the Dutch solution functions in an otherwise isolated context where the US Drug War pressures everyone else to keep the pressure up. It is a small country and easy to police in the larger Drug War. Sales are isolated to coffee shops where it is smoked on location and the primary source of revenue is tourists. When the Drug War goes away, so will the tourists and the Dutch solution will be obsolete. The Dutch solution needs the Drug War.

                        The important thing to notice is that legalization led to a decline in use which points out the socialization that occurs when possession rather distribution is criminalized. When possession is criminalized the distributor and user are social equals and the distributors can move socially much easier among their potential markets. In the Dutch solution, distribution is decriminalized, but the consequences are the same, the user and distributor are not social equals. The distributor has license.
                        Get the US out of NATO, now!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Guys,

                          Establishing some laws regulating the body of a human being is not new. If we outlaw prostitution, then truly the drugs should be outlawed as well. The drugs are our worst enemy, and they need to be stopped at all costs. The reason we're losing the Drug War is because we have not gone after the suppliers, I mean, the major drug cartels.

                          I think by providing economic aid and our technical expertise, we could presuade some poor countries whose economies depend on growing the drugs to switch to a better way of developing the economy.

                          I don't really care about some cocoa farmers complaining that they're poor and need to grow some drugs just to ruin our future American generations. They knew they were breaking laws, and they must be punished as well.

                          I am getting tired of hearing a lot of people making excuses about enivronment and bad childhood to cover up their criminal activities.

                          As far I am concerned, either these poor countries need to smart up or send in our troops and destroy the drug farms.

                          Dan
                          Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                          "Aim small, miss small."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here is an interesting comparison.

                            Put two men in a room with a bottle of whiskey:
                            They'll get drunk, probably argue. Maybe even fight. The next morning, they won't remember what happened and they'll both have tremendous headaches.

                            Now put those same two men in a room with a couple of joints:
                            They'll get stoned, laugh their asses off and probably emerge the best of friends. The next morning they'll remember everything that happened and they'll feel like a million bucks.

                            Now which is better ?
                            Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Establishing some laws regulating the body of a human being is not new. If we outlaw prostitution, then truly the drugs should be outlawed as well. The drugs are our worst enemy, and they need to be stopped at all costs. The reason we're losing the Drug War is because we have not gone after the suppliers, I mean, the major drug cartels.

                              I think by providing economic aid and our technical expertise, we could presuade some poor countries whose economies depend on growing the drugs to switch to a better way of developing the economy.

                              I don't really care about some cocoa farmers complaining that they're poor and need to grow some drugs just to ruin our future American generations. They knew they were breaking laws, and they must be punished as well.

                              I am getting tired of hearing a lot of people making excuses about enivronment and bad childhood to cover up their criminal activities.

                              As far I am concerned, either these poor countries need to smart up or send in our troops and destroy the drug farms.
                              In order to destroy the farms that supply drugs that come from plants, you have to destroy the agriculture in the area itself. In most of the areas where the drugs come from, its agriculture may very well predate recorded history and sometimes the rest of the agriculture itself as well.

                              Nobody who uses drugs for recreational purposes complain about anything but the laws against it. Those who cannot control their consumption of stimulants for whatever reason have a lot to complain about and there is many ways to confront their problems. Locking them up is not one of them.

                              Meanwhile those who profit from the illicit drug trade do not complain about its criminality because they could not be in business without it. They need the drugs to be illicit else there is no profit margin. By criminalizing their activity of distributing drugs rather then simple possession you attack the problem at its roots without further damaging the lives of those whose lives are totally controlled by their need for drugs and the people who supply them.

                              Those who are on a moral crusade against consuming drugs for recreational purposes have no contributions to make to the endless problems associated with that practice. They are especially impotent against those who use drugs to control other people to take their money and ruin their lives. Ending the Drug War and targeting the money from black market distribution rather then innocent users would turn this around.
                              Get the US out of NATO, now!

                              Comment

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