NORML Canada: July 2013 Newsletter
Greetings Cannabis Law Reform Community
In this month’s newsletter:
On July 23 in Kelowna and on July 25 in Vancouver, Justin Trudeau said he would legalize cannabis if elected Prime Minister. He did not use the weasel-word ‘decriminalization’ which would keep the black market intact and create uncertainty in the law. Rather, he had the courage to say what we all know: the laws prohibiting cannabis do more harm to the individual consumer and to society than the substance itself.
Justin Trudeau has taken a brave stand. We need to make it known that this courageous stance has lots of support in Canadian society. We are encouraging our members to write to the newspapers and make it known that Justin Trudeau is not alone. NORML Canada’s web site features a media release regarding Justin Trudeau’s strong position on this important issue.
The Justin Trudeau news is a perfect segue into the next matter we wanted to talk about. The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada has a new campaign in which they are encouraging citizens to seek out their Member of Parliament and ask them their position on the legalization of cannabis (normlwomen.ca/meeting_your_mp). We think it is a great idea. We encourage our members to see their MP and seek out their position on cannabis. Politicians need to know that their constituents are concerned about this issue.
In 2015 we will be voting in our next government. Nothing motivates a politician more than the fear of getting voted out. We want our politicians to know that their position on cannabis legalization is going to matter. In order to do this we have to start early.
The Women’s Alliance have listed a number of common misconceptions about cannabis and cited the relevant government reports and peer-reviewed studies to support their points.
They have listed some good advice about how best to approach your MP.
Go to their website and then go to your MP. Make it clear that if they want to get re-elected there are votes in cannabis legalization. After you do that, email us and tell us how it went. We would like to make it known how all our MPs feel about legalization (firstname.lastname@example.org).
On July 31, 2013 Uruguay will vote on the legalization of cannabis. The vote would legalize the sale/ consumption of cannabis and allow up to six plants to be grown in homes. Citizens could purchase up to 40 grams a month from state authorized distributors. The bill is being backed by Uruguay’s progressive 77 year old President Jose Mujica. President Mujica notes that cannabis usage in his country has steadily increased despite increasingly harsh penalties. If the law passes then it would also create a National Institute of Cannabis which would put money from sales of cannabis into crime prevention and addiction treatment. Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) spoke about the positive steps being pursued in Uruguay,
“I would like to publicly recognize the responsible and serious manner in which the Uruguayan State and civil society are addressing the project presented by the government on the production, sale, and use of marijuana in this country.”
We are creating draft legislation and we wanted to get your views on one of the more controversial facets of legalization: production (email@example.com). We see production as being divided between personal production and commercial production. Commercial production would include all cannabis produced for the purpose of sale. This would be distinguished from personal production which would permit giving or sharing. Commercial production would require fairly strict rules on sanitation and quality assurance standards.
Some have suggested dividing Personal Production into Small Personal and Large Personal depending on the amount of wattage used by the lights. Some have suggested creating a national registry or maybe requiring municipal approval for some of the larger personal gardens. The arguments in support of this assert that there are some mold and electrical issues if a cannabis garden is not done right.
On the other hand, many of our members believe that more rules are unnecessarily expensive for both the grower and the government (in the form of added bureaucracy). Many of our members believe the current bylaws adequately address the mold and fire hazard issues often alleged by authorities and that no further rules are required for non-commercial growing.
We want to draft laws that honestly address real mold and electrical risks to growing. At the same time we do not intend to support laws that are unreasonably punitive for the sole purpose of winning over our opponents. We want to create fair rules.
On July 25, 2013 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a series of medical dispensaries in Washington state. This comes following last November when Washington state (along with Colorado) became the first U.S. states to legalize recreational cannabis. This could be viewed as a sign that the U.S. federal government does not intend to respect the state’s new legalization legislation.
Attorney General Eric Holder has previously indicated that the federal government was reviewing the new laws and their implications. In January he met with the Washington Governor and Attorney General in a meeting in which Holder mostly asked questions. In February Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Policy, said that the federal government would ignore the state legislation. In March Mr. Holder advised the Senate Judicial Committee that he would announce the federal government’s position “relatively soon.” But nothing further has been said.
In late June 2013 the United States Conference of Mayors passed a resolution suggesting that the Obama administration let the states decide the issue for themselves. The Mayors’ Conference cited, among other things, the benefits prohibition provides to organized crime and the fact that despite so many arrests (22 million in the U.S. since 1965) the law is so widely disregarded. Sadly the Obama administration has been a disappointment on this file. In the past four years the DEA has conducted 270 SWAT style raids on medical marijuana providers at a cost of $8 million.
Currently, Washington and Colorado have been working on rules for the new industry. They have tried to engage the Obama administration in order to get guidance on what the federal government may or may not consider acceptable but the federal government has said little while continuing to spend tax dollars raiding dispensaries.
NORML Canada is working towards providing our content in both official languages. There is great support for legalization in Francophone communities in provinces all across Canada.
A French version of this newsletter is available on our website.
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