Canadian Cannabis Criminalization Continues


As expected, Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has nixed a Liberal proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession. The legislation, which had been kicked around for three years, would have made possession of less than 15 grams (half an ounce) a noncriminal offense punishable by a modest fine. The most revealing thing about the episode was the over-the-top reaction from the U.S. government, which threatened to retaliate against Canadian decriminalization by holding up tourists and exports at the border, even though a dozen U.S. states have essentially the same policy. In a leap of logic that still puzzles me, American drug warriors argued that treating possession of personal-use quantities less harshly would boost the wholesale flow of Canadian cannabis into the U.S. It seems likely their real worry was that Canada's relatively enlightened brand of drug policy would start to leak across the border.

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  1. Potheads are the easiest “deviants” to pick on. They don’t move very quickly, and it only takes one bullet to bring one down.

    And they’re easy to weed out. All you need to do is monitor unusual activity in pizza orders and DVD/video game rentals.

    That allows the jackboots plenty of extra time for naps and doughnuts.

  2. Just goes to show that the Canadian Right are just as willing to be Dubbya’s bitches as their American colleagues.

  3. I don’t really see the allure in “decriminalization”. It’s a pansy ass half measure that resolves none of the real problems caused by the war on drugs. I don’t think letting a few stoners get their high in a slightly less dangerous legal framework is worth abandoning the fundamental, principled objection to the war on drugs.

  4. Yeah, decriminalization’s a placebo. End prohibition, don’t just declaw it.

  5. Revolutions only happen with lots of guns and pissed off people. Otherwise, don’t hold your breath.

    Decriminalization of weed will show people that the world won’t go up in flames. In fact, some up-tights may even try a little themselves, and see that it isn’t a big deal.

    That would totally disrupt the prohibitionist paradigm, and put this stupid fucking drug war on the defensive.

  6. Oh, we finally got re-elected into power over the horribly corrupt opposition after 20 years in the wilderness?


  7. The dirty little secret of drug policy:

    Some states, faced with the actual balance of benefits and burdens of Prohibition, are willing to embrace halfway sane drug policies. (e.g, Go look at Ohio’s marijuana penalties at the NORML site.)

    It’s the FedGov and its DrugWar apparatus that has been captured by crazies.

    By putting all our Drug Policy eggs in one federal basket, we’re getting a policy that’s significantly worse than what we would yield if we had 50 state policies.


    It’s not as sexy as FULL LEGALIZATION NOW but what we really need is a federalist policy that allows states to experiment with decriminalization. Eventually we would reach an equilibrium well short of legalization but quite a bit more liberal than the Talibanic puritanism we currently enforce.

  8. I don’t see how decriminalizing personal use possession of pot undermines the argument for complete legalization. Seems like it’s a baby step in the right direction.

    resolves none of the real problems caused by the war on drugs

    How about the problem of putting people in jail who have done nothing wrong? Okay, it doesn’t “resolve” that as a general principle, but it sure as hell resolves it for the people who would otherwise be behind bars!

    Canada was my great hope for the collapse of the WOD. I know, I know, the past three decades should have taught me better. And I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Perhaps now I’ll turn my closet into a cash cow and learn to love prohibition.

    Christ this is depressing. I need a drink.

  10. Canada was my great hope for the collapse of the WOD.

    If you’re relying on the Professional Nannies of Canada to expand individual liberty you’re more desperate than I thought…

  11. I wish I could think a Democratic administration would do better; but I have to remember Clinton/Gore on the subject.

  12. Oh, I forgot this recent pointer post to John Stossel’s conversion.

  13. “Mr. Harper announced the move during a speech to the Canadian Professional Police Association in which he pledged to toughen sentences for drug and gun crimes, tighten parole rules, strengthen controls on child pornography and expand the national databank of DNA samples for convicted criminals.

    “We are going to hold criminals to account,” said Mr. Harper, who was elected in January. “If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time.””

    Love how they implicitly link child pornography with drug “crimes.”

    Fuck you, Mr. Harper.

  14. This do not bode well for Marc Emery’s extradition fight, or is that in the hands of Canada’s judiciary.

  15. Oh, we finally got re-elected into power over the horribly corrupt opposition after 20 years in the wilderness?

    You vote for a politician, you get what that politician wants to do. There isn’t a “I want you to have this office, but I don’t want you to pursue your stated policies” line on the ballot, even in Canada.

  16. Actually being a Canadian, there’s one thing everyone seems to be missing here. Drugs have been illegal in Canada for as long as I’ve lived there, and during my university years I was what might be described as an enthusiast, and you know what? Never had a problem with the law. Neither did any of my friends. The most a cop ever did was take a joint away, chuck it on the ground and say, “Geddoudahere!”

    The reason is pretty simple. My older brother the cop – not by any means a hippy-lover – puts it this way: “I’ve got better things to do than chase down potheads.” Far as I can tell, most cops feel the same. They know marijuana users aren’t dangerous, and they figure the criminal penalties are draconian and (maybe more to the point) involve too much paperwork. So they don’t bother enforcing those laws unless you give them a reason to.

    Funny thing is, every stoner in the country was like, “Dude, that’s awesome. Decriminalization is, like, totally the best thing, man.” Idjits. All decriminalization would have amounted to in practice was more harassment of pot-users, because the cops would be more willing to enforce a fine than a jail term. All, of course, while allowing the former ruling party to cloak itself in a progressive mantle.

    I for one am quite happy that Mr. Harper has nixed the whole sordid idea.

  17. “Smoke it” beat me to it- For all of the idiotic things Ohio gov’t does, at least our marijuana laws are semi-reasonable.

    Then again, if the cop had opened my trunk that one time I got pulled over, I would’ve been facing a “mandatory minimum” of 8 years even under the new standards.

    I have a small hole in the cloth on my driver’s seat… I always say that when the cop’s lights went on, my sphincter tightened up so fast it sucked the foam right out of the seat! :o)

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