PR: Harper ignores strong public support for cannabis law reform

PR: Harper ignores strong public support for cannabis law reform

PR: Harper ignores strong public support for cannabis law reform

Harper ignores strong public support for cannabis law reform

October 1, 2008

Two-thirds of Canadians think simple possession of cannabis shouldn’t be a criminal offense, and more than half are ready for a legal, regulated market, yet Stephen Harper wants to take Canada in the opposite direction.

Cannabis is an accepted part of Canadian culture, but if Stephen Harper wins the upcoming election he will revive legislation that, for the first time in Canadian history, imposes mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis related offences. Even the growing of a single plant would result in a mandatory prison sentence.

In proposing this legislation (Bill C-26), Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he hoped this new law would help “put organized crime out of business.”

“Nicholson couldn’t have possibly believed that,” says Canadian Cannabis Coalition member, Keith Fagin, “the Department of Justice did a study in 2002 and concluded mandatory minimums have no measurable affect on drug consumption or drug-related crime. I’m sure the Justice Minister has access to that report.”

Darryl Plecas, a criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley, who generally supports tougher sentences, has expressed doubt the legislation would have any real deterrent effect on organized crime and would necessitate the building of more prisons.

“You’re going to have hundreds, if not thousands, of people going to jail who aren’t going now,” Plecas was quoted saying in a November 2007 Vancouver Sun article.

“Prohibition fuels gangs and violence”, says CCC member, Debra Harper, “so common sense tells us replacing prohibition with a regulated market will benefit us all. This legislation will make Canada less safe, not more.”

The CCC is appealing to the public to recognize the serious harm the Harper anti-drug strategy will cause, and to please call your Member of Parliament and urge them not to support it.

The Canadian Cannabis Coalition is a national umbrella group for cannabis law reform advocates and organizations. Our goal is to help end the counter-productive policy of cannabis prohibition by educating the public about a reality best summarized by the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs in 2002: “The continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself.”

For more information, contact:
Keith Fagin: 403-863-2071
Debra Harper:

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