CANNABIS CULTURE – “In wise hands poison is medicine. In foolish hands medicine is poison.” – Casanova
In an interview in the Kelowna Daily Courier, potential leader of the Progressive Conservative Party Peter MacKay repeated all the standard myths about cannabis.
David Malmo-Levine decided to fact check him. Here are MacKay’s myth-infused, stigma-foisting quotes (in bold) with actual reality evidence-based true facts immediately below the quotes.
“It (cannabis) should have been de-criminalized and that’s where our government was heading on the advice of the Canadian Police Association and chiefs of police. Bringing in a phased-way with decriminalization would have been far preferable.”
First off, police make terrible doctors, and understand nothing – zero – about herbal medicine. Secondly, the police have a vested interest in perpetuating their persecution-of-the-harmless budgets, and for that reason should never have a say in crafting laws in general, and drug laws in particular. Finally, “decriminalization” has been tried all over the world – most using models that replaced criminal penalties with non-criminal penalties – and such punishment-strewn models have little to show for them other than being a more streamlined way of punishing harmless people and “widening the net” to allow the police to punish more people.
“What I most worry about is the impact on young people, the mental health implications, the impaired driving implications.”
These are the two big lies with which prohibitionists justify prohibition and monopolists justify cartels for the rich. The evidence that prove that cannabis doesn’t harm young people has been collected and is overwhelming,
as is the evidence that cannabis prohibition
- and cannabis deprivation –
harms teens far more than proper cannabis use ever could, as is the evidence that stoned drivers are safe drivers, and that cannabis-related impairment is a function of dose and familiarity and not inherent.
“It was forced. The entire issue was rushed.”
The first major study of cannabis and cannabis policy – the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission of 1893-1894 – concluded that there was “no evil results at all” with moderate use.
The second major report was issued in 1944 by the La Guardia Committee of New York City. Titled “The Marijuana Problem in the City of New York”, it reached similar conclusions to the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission.
Between 1968 and 1972, Britain, Canada and the US released three major reports on cannabis policy, all recommending reducing penalties for cannabis possession, or eliminating them entirely.
In 2002 the Canadian Senate recommended complete legalization, including “to permit persons over the age of 16 to procure cannabis and its derivatives at duly licensed distribution centers.”
I suppose by “rushed”, MacKay was referring to the 120 years between the first major report on Cannabis policy and the Liberal’s promise to legalize in 2015. If it were up to the “Progressive” Conservatives, Canadians would have to wait for another five or six major studies and another 120 years until we were really, really certain that cannabis was relatively harmless.
“I believe it wasn’t the highest priority for an incoming government. It was the back-of-a-napkin promise that the current prime minister had made.”
It was, of course, a winning strategy that the Liberals had thought about for years, given how many times they had promised to reform cannabis laws, and how many times they had won elections with those promises.
Pierre Trudeau won the 1972 election promising cannabis law reform (found in the LeDain commission) that was never enacted. Trudeau won the 1974 election promising cannabis law reform (in the form of Bill S-19) which died on the Order Paper and was never enacted.
Conservative Joe Clark won the 1979 election with a promise of “decriminalization” that was never enacted.
The Liberals ran their 1997 election campaign based on promising to make criminal records “untraceable” a year earlier with the “Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” – these criminal records were never made untraceable, because they then made the same promise in 2002 – in order to win the 2004 election.
Jean Chretien famously promised in 2003 that “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand.”
Of course these promises were also never enacted.
Justin Trudeau didn’t pull this policy out of thin air and write it on the back of a napkin – he realized that in order to win the election, he had to (in some form) keep a cannabis law reform promise that Liberals – including his father – had been making for the last 40 years.
“More emphasis on protecting people from other drugs, fentanyl and oxycontin has to be part of any plan that’s there for public health reasons.”
As every major report on the issue of hard drug use points out, people need protecting from the effects of prohibition – not the effects of the drugs, which can be mitigated through the encouragement of proper use.
“The promise that it (legalization) was going to reduce the black market has been a complete failure.”
Actually, Justin Trudeau promised to reduce the black market by legalizing the black market. Specifically, he promised “properly licensed dispensaries” (that already existed but were technically black market), he promised he would be “listening … to folks in the medical marijuana industry” (who at that time were mostly black market dispensaries), he promised “a fresh approach”, “home growing” and “freedom”. After he was elected, he stopped talking like that, and instead that the police “enforce the law” – in other words allow the police to use the prohibition he was taking his time eliminating destroy the black market so that his well-connected buddies could enjoy a pot-cartel for themselves.
Perhaps MacKay was talking about eliminating “organized crime” from the pot economy. He wasn’t, but let’s say for the sake of argument he was. The Liberals made sure to include a way to allow organized crime to participate in the pot market by design.
Of course MacKay has promised not to eliminate cannabis “legalization” – or the current cartelization – if he came into power.
The fact that MacKay didn’t specifically reference the “organized crime loophole” that the Liberals created – even though it’s a slam dunk attack on Trudeau – leads one to believe that he has no intention of eliminating this situation if he ever comes into power.
Currently there is no political party in Canada interested in eliminating the hard drug regulations found in the Cannabis Act – Canada’s legalization model – and replacing them with soft drug regulations. While it would be a disaster to have the Progressive Conservatives voted back in for many reasons, Canadian cannabis activists must now focus their energies on educating the public regarding the myths around cannabis
and various reform options
and use the courts instead of politicians
as a way to replace hard drug cannabis regulations with soft drug cannabis regulations.