Amnesty for all cannabis offences,
inclusive rules, and an apology
Toronto lawyer, Annamarie Enenajor, has launched Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty which is seeking amnesty for cannabis simple possession charges. She wants it to be an election issue. Please support the campaign by signing the petition at: www.cannabisamnesty.com The NDP support pardons for simple possession charges (www.ndp.ca/news/ndp-statement-pardons-marijuana-possession-charges). The Liberals say they will consider the matter after legalization.
NORML Canada welcomes the campaign and the NDP’s progressive position, but we would like to see more than simple possession pardons. The federal government should pardon all cannabis offences. Growers and sellers should not have criminal convictions while medical growers and sellers should definitely not have convictions particularly when one considers the various constitutionally deficient versions of the government’s previous medical regimes.
The federal government should make it easier for these victims of prohibition to participate in the legal industry. Oakland reserved 50% of their medical cannabis business permits for people affected by the war on drugs. These equity permits are available to residents arrested in Oakland for a cannabis offence since 1996. San Francisco has a similar policy. In Canada, having been a victim of cannabis prohibition means one is further victimized by being excluded from the new industry where the ubiquitous security clearance requirement excludes those with cannabis convictions and/ involvement in the pre-legalization cannabis industry.
The federal government should also apologize for the many wrongs caused by cannabis prohibition. Cannabis prohibition began in 1923 (14 years before the US prohibition) with no debate, discussion or report. It was the product of racist hysteria not founded in science. Every time the federal government studied the matter the conclusion was the same: cannabis is a mild substance of low toxicity with many health benefits. In 1972 the Le Dain Commission recommended decriminalization. In 2002 the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs concluded that the prohibition on cannabis does more harm than the substance itself. Still, prohibition marched blindly forward. The only reason there is a medical regime is because the courts forced the government to act. Even today, on the eve of legalization, mandatory minimums jail terms for cannabis offences are being applied across the country. For almost one hundred years, the government has embraced a destructive prohibition not founded in reason. It is time to apologize.