Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants police to “enforce the law” and criminally charge illegal marijuana dispensaries — even though weed legalization is looming.
“People are right now breaking the law,” Trudeau told the Star’s editorial board on Friday.
“We haven’t changed the laws. We haven’t legalized it yet. Yes, we got a clear mandate to do that. We’ve said we will. We’ve said we’re going to do it to protect our kids and to keep the money out of the pockets of criminals.” — Clearly he really has no care for our kids; this same government has over 2000 school kids just here in Vancouver that go without lunches apparently short a million to feed them each year yet almost 2 billion to arrest harmless pot growers, smokers and sellers. Canada wide its maddening and then over 200 communities without drinking water.
“We believe that a properly regulated, controlled system will achieve both of those measures. But we haven’t brought in that properly regulated, controlled system because it’s important that we do it right in order to achieve those two specific goals.”— This translates like this; We want to make sure the Government cash cow is not watered down by Ma & Pa growers and store fronts. Decriminalizing Marijuana is about money in our coffers and appearing to give a little freedom as with pass bills like Bill-C51 making it ok to arrest protesters without a trial and imprison them indefinitely. Also controlling who produces and sells ensures that the weed strains are contaminated with Justin Trudeau Corporate chums Monsanto and Bayer as they bid to monopolize cannabis too. OH and lets not forget the banned pesticides Licensed Producers have been caught using.
“So, I don’t know how much clearer we can be that we’re not legalizing marijuana to please recreational users,” he said.
“I mean, that will be a byproduct. We recognize that that is something that’s going to happen when it happens, but it’s not happened yet.
It can only be supplied by the 36 Health Canada-licensed producers and delivered by registered mail or homegrown in small amounts.
Storefront dispensaries that claim to be supplying medicinal marijuana are not federally licensed and are breaking the existing law.”
Asked what municipalities could do to deal with the scourge of such pot shops, Trudeau did not mince words: “You can enforce the law.”
Police, however, have been trying to do that in places like Toronto and Ottawa, with raids of dispensaries, but with middling effect.
Because the federal law will eventually be amended, some entrepreneurs appear willing to risk fines as a cost of doing business before outright legalization.
The Liberal government has appointed a nine-member task force that will develop recommendations for a comprehensive plan on marijuana legalization and regulation. The move to research and invest in sensible marijuana reform comes as minor possession offences continue to be enforced and police have raided unlicensed pot shops.
Unfortunately, the government has rejected the possibility of immediately decriminalizing marijuana possession. Decriminalization is not full legalization, but it would eliminate criminal penalty for marijuana-related offences and relieve the strain on an already over-used criminal justice system.
The decision to appoint this task force without immediately decriminalizing possession not only flies in the face of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate to implement meaningful moves toward “evidence-based policy,” it also betrays the cannabis culture Canadians have cultivated over the last 30 years.
Instead, the government maintains that taking the time to develop a plan to control marijuana distribution and sales through a legalized framework – without temporary decriminalization – better addresses the concerns of Canadians. It suggests the current legal infrastructure, which saw significant expansion under the government of Stephen Harper, can provide meaningful protections against organized crime and illegal pot sales.
This decision to continue enforcing marijuana offences encourages police to be heavy-handed in their enforcement while providing virtually no added safeguards to ensure that marijuana stays out of the hands of minors – a primary goal of Trudeau’s campaign toward legalization.
“Quite frankly, until those laws are repealed by Parliament through the appropriate processes, they should be upheld, they should be obeyed,” argues MP and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair. Blair’s comments are in reference to the growing number of unlicensed dispensaries, suggesting they are “reckless” and capitalizing on an ambiguous political climate to make a “quick buck” among recreational and other “unregulated” users.
Blair’s position presupposes that sales of illegal substances will skyrocket without the threat of criminal enforcement, though there is little evidence to support this. In their book, Killer Weed, Susan Boyd (a member of the task force) and Connie Carter argue that this understanding of decriminalization is misleading, suggesting instead that countries which have moved toward decriminalizing recreational drugs saw virtually no rise in drug use, while also experiencing significant reductions in prison overcrowding.
It seems there is a fundamental disconnect between the Liberal government’s stance on pot versus what it is actually happening on the ground. Both Trudeau and Blair have suggested they are uncomfortable with the prospect that immediate decriminalization would make it easier for organized criminals to profit from marijuana sales. Their discomfort, however, evidently does not extend to the fact that countless non-violent cannabis users continue to face criminal records for an act that is soon to be legal.
Charging non-violent cannabis users and small store-front dispensaries with criminal sanction seems antithetical to this supposed ideological shift toward a seemingly softer, evidence-based approach to crime control. Rejecting the possibility of decriminalization before the task force has even had a chance to meet radically undermines the kinds of political interventions experts can make, especially when there has been a great deal of research in the field of drug policy.
The first and most important recommendation of the newly appointed task force should be to immediately decriminalize marijuana, removing the stigmas of criminal sanction and embracing an ethos of compassion toward cannabis users. The interim solution should not default to continued police enforcement and punitive sanctions.
While some police departments have refused to lay charges for possession, others continue to unevenly enforce the laws against some of their communities’ most marginalized groups. With an estimated $1.2 billion spent annually on marijuana enforcement, ruined lives bear the cost when we privilege punishment over evidence-based reforms.