NORML Canada: April 2013 Newsletter
Greeting Cannabis Law Reform Community
NORML Canada would like to thank its members for helping make the 2013 National Erb4Herb 420 rallies such a great success. The events were bigger and better than ever – and we were there, front and centre, in many cities.
We also had an opportunity to meet many new members. We wish to welcome you warmly to NORML Canada, and we look forward to working with you in the future. We hope to see many of you at the 2013 Global Marijuana March.
This month’s newsletter includes:
Thanks in part to our members, this year’s 420 rallies were Canada’s largest! With support from Erb4Herb, the events were bigger and better than ever. Despite inclement weather and law enforcement in some cities, tens of thousands of voters came out to demand an end to cannabis prohibition.
NORML Canada was represented at 16 rallies in seven provinces and one territory, demonstrating we are one of Canada’s leading voices for cannabis reform!
In Toronto, nearly 9,000 gathered in Yonge and Dundas Square, right in the heart of the city. All afternoon, speakers took to the stage to discuss why its time for change. Paul Lewin, our Ontario Regional Director, received cheers from the crowd as he explained how to get involved with helping legalize cannabis in Canada. Afterwards, the NORML Canada table was lined up with new members.
In Ottawa, 13,000 filled the hill to take part in a multi-party political debate on cannabis policy. Speakers from the Liberal Party of Canada and Young Green Party of Canada explained what their party would do to reform cannabis laws, if elected. Both received applause over a chant of “vote” as thousands imagined voting for legalization in 2015. Andrea Matrosovs of the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada and Joshua Kappel of Sensible Colorado also spoke about the practical realities of promoting legalization. Particularly, these speakers discussed strategic decisions, which can help gain the support of non-users.
Unfortunately, the increased size and publicity surrounding this year’s 420 rallies prompted police suppression in some cities, including across Alberta. Keith Fagin, our Prairies Regional Director, said the crowd was undeterred: protected by their Charter rights, thousands continued to protest, despite threats from local law enforcement.
Overall, the events were a great success. NORML Canada was able to meet thousands of reformers and legalizers at the various events, and gain hundreds of new members.
We look forward to working with all of you as we move towards legalization in 2015.
It has been almost six months since Colorado and Washington State voters passed ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis in their communities. In this time, the US Federal government is yet to announce its position on state-legal cannabis.
This lack of certainty is no small deal for these emerging regulated cannabis markets.
In the United States, federal laws essentially “trump” state laws. Because of this, individuals can be exposed to harsh federal penalties for drug crimes, even when being fully compliant with state laws. This has been an issue plaguing medical cannabis providers in the 19 jurisdictions where cannabis is legal for medical purposes.
Earlier this month, Congress introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act. The Bill would prevent individuals following State law from being liable for federal penalties. If passed, this would be a great success for cannabis reform as regulated, recreational, and medical cannabis would be afforded full protection from the law.
Perhaps most surprising about the Bill is its support. The Bill is a bipartisan effort, supported by many conservatives. Rep Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif) introduced the Bill, dubbing it a “common sense approach” to prevent the federal government from criminalizing activities States no longer want criminalized. Other supporters of the Bill include congressmen from both sides of the isle.
This legislation shows a step in the right direction for the United States Federal Government. A recent poll found a 60% of Americans supported respecting state laws, even if they did not personally support cannabis legalization. Combined with the White House’s new health-based drug policy, this could signal the beginning of the last chapter for cannabis prohibition in the United States.
Building on the success of this year’s 420 rallies – we hope to see many of our new members at the 2013 Global Marijuana Marches. On Saturday May 4th, thousands of people from around the world will take to the streets to promote cannabis law reform.
[UPDATE] We neglected to mention that in Toronto there will be two Global Marijuana Marches. One will take place on May 4, 2013 and the other on May 11, 2013. Both begin at 12:00 noon at Queen’s Park and for both GMMs the actual march commences at 2 pm.
NORML Canada intends to have a table at the May 11th GMM in Toronto, but we wish both marches success.
We hope to see you there! It might feel as though legalization is just around the corner, but it takes the continued efforts of all of us to continue our momentum. Keep an eye out for a Norml Member at your local event. Bring your friends and come take to the streets with NORML Canada at GMM 2013.
Thank you to our members who took the time to submit responses to our first legalization issue. We received many responses discussing the appropriate minimum age of use for regulated recreational cannabis.
On this issue, it seems the most appropriate standard would be to defer to provincial standards regarding alcohol and or tobacco use. This would mean a minimum age of use set around 18 or 19 years of age, depending on the provinces current vice legislation. Such deference would be in line with our constitutional division of powers, which leaves day-to-day regulations such as those surrounding alcohol and tobacco to the provinces.
Additionally, regardless of the age chosen, it is imperative young people who use cannabis are not subject to criminal penalties. One of the main goals of legalizing and regulating cannabis is to keep otherwise law abiding citizens- especially young people- out of the criminal justice system
This month, our question comes from the supply side: should personal production be permitted?
Personal production is one of the most controversial legalization issues. Decades of anti-cannabis propaganda have left Canadians with inflated and exaggerated fears regarding the risks of personal cannabis production. On the other hand, growers stress personal gardens tend to be safe and effective. Further, any risks can (and should) be dealt with via production regulations.
Joshua Kappel, a lawyer who helped write and pass Amendment 64 in Colorado, said this was a key issue in his state. Particularly, they were concerned personal production might turn off some voters.
In the end, personal production was permitted to maintain the efficacy of the system. Personal production allows individuals to acquire custom cannabis, at a cost they can afford. Such production prevents the continuance of a black market for individuals underserved by the legal cannabis market.
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