PR: Bill C-38, the so-called “decriminalization” bill and Bill C-248

PR: Bill C-38, the so-called “decriminalization” bill and Bill C-248

PR: Bill C-38, the so-called “decriminalization” bill and Bill C-248

Bill C-38, the so-called “decriminalization” bill and Bill C-248

From: Canadian Cannabis Coalition (CCC)
Sent: November 3, 2003
To: Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs/Comité spécial sur la consommation non médicale de drogues ou médicaments

The Canadian Cannabis Coalition, comprised of front-line academics, business and grassroot activists, who study and experience first-hand the impact of prohibition on our society, calls on the government to end prohibition and any further risk and punishment of cannabis users, cultivators and distributors.

Two bills before parliament right now are of particular and dire concern:

Bill C-38, the so-called “decriminalization” bill and Bill C-248, the mandatory minimum bill.

Bill C-38 was originally aimed at reducing the injurious harms of criminalization. By proposing to fine people in possession of small amounts of cannabis, and increase the punishment to cultivators and distributors, the bill hypocritically amplifies the dangers of prohibition and discriminates between those who can afford to pay large fines and those who cannot.

Bill C-248 represents the first attempt in Canada to emulate the most draconian of US criminal sentences, the mandatory minimum for drugs. This would take away the discretion of judges to assess each situation based on its own merits. Canadians must question not only the desirability of such a blow to our justice system, but also why cannabis warrants such drastic measures that are typically reserved for the most grievous crimes that have uncontested harms, such as murder.

We know from our history with alcohol prohibition, that such policies do not work. Indeed most of the problems related to drugs stem directly from their criminalization.

The groundwork for rational cannabis policy in a realistic context has been established by the Senate Special Committee On Illegal Drugs. [1] The conclusion of the Senate’s very thorough 800-page report is that the current approach is ineffective. They realized that ultimately, prohibition amounts to throwing taxpayers money down the drain in a crusade that is not warranted by the danger posed by the substance. [2] The Senate Committee unanimously recommended full legalization.

The following facts were accepted by the Ontario Court of Appeal in July 2000 and not disputed nor appealed by the government. [3]

Consumption of marijuana is relatively harmless compared to the so-called hard drugs and including tobacco and alcohol;
There exists no hard evidence demonstrating any irreversible organic or mental damage from the consumption of marijuana;
That cannabis does cause alteration of mental functions and as such, it would not be prudent to drive a car while intoxicated;
There is no hard evidence that cannabis consumption induces psychoses;
Cannabis is not an addictive substance;
Marijuana is not criminogenic in that there is no evidence of acausal relationship between cannabis use and criminality;
That the consumption of marijuana probably does not lead to”hard drug” use for the vast majority of marijuana consumers, although there appears to be a statistical relationship between the use of marijuana and a variety of other psychoactive drugs;
Marijuana does not make people more aggressive or violent;
There have been no recorded deaths from the consumption of marijuana;
There is no evidence that marijuana causes amotivational syndrome;
Less than 1% of marijuana consumers are daily users;
Consumption in so-called “de-criminalized states” does not increase out of proportion to states where there is no de-criminalization.
Health related costs of cannabis use are negligible when compared to the costs attributable to tobacco and alcohol consumption.
Bills C-38 and C-48 do not represent the will of Canadians, reflected in numerous polls and surveys, including the most recent publication from the Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC). [4] Like the Senate Committee, the desire of Canadians to end prohibition stems from their rational reaction to the facts based on the findings of our very respected institutions, that are not as susceptible to US and other influences as are our politicians.

The continuation of prohibition and punishment of cannabis users, cultivators and distributors, is an affront to Canadians’ sensibilities and priorities. The electorate are ready to support political leaders with the courage and resolve to quickly implement rational regulations that will address our real concerns rather than pander to the interests that are currently being served by prohibition.

Canadian Cannabis Coalition

[1] Senate Special Committee On Illegal Drugs (SSCID )
[4] Portraits of Canada 2003 -Canadians have spoken-
The CCC (Canadian Cannabis Coalition ) is an umbrella organization
for 70+ cannabis-related organizations, businesses, and individuals across Canada with affiliates in the United States and Australia. We are dedicated to facilitating access to a safe supply of cannabis through research, education and advocacy.

Debra Harper 250.474.7882 (Victoria)
Philippe Lucas 250.884.9821 (Victoria)
Rielle Capler 604. 875-0448 (Vancouver)
Brian Taylor 250. 442.5166 (Grand Forks)
Tim Meehan: 416-854-6343 (Toronto)
Neev: 416-367-3459 (Toronto)

For further information or comment, please contact

Canadian Cannabis Coalition
P.O. Box 1481
Grand Forks, B.C.
V0H 1H0
Feedback form: