Why I’m Not Falling For Liberal Promises To Legalize Cannabis

Re-printed with no permission from Hill Times, March 4, 2013.

OTTAWA—Recently, the leadership candidates for the Liberal Party of Canada have promised varying versions of cannabis “legalization” if their party returns to power.

Some are calling the party’s new position on cannabis law reform “bold.” I would agree, if this were 1973. True, hearing a national party actually talk about legalization is a step in the right direction, but it is one small step where 10 large steps are needed.

As someone who relies heavily on cannabis to manage my symptoms, and as a 24/7 caregiver to a sick wife who needs it even more, I want to believe them. I really, really do. But I find myself unable to.

Like Charlie Brown continually falling for Lucy’s football ruse, the media and much of the public seem to be falling for it, but I’m not.

Why so incredulous, you ask? Well, maybe it is the fact that I am 43 years old and have been hearing the Liberals promise cannabis-law reform every few years since the 1972 Le Dain Commission, only to watch them increase penalties when they are actually in power. People are quick to forget that the contracts for all these new jails were tendered under the Paul Martin administration. The Liberals knew back in the 1990s that the flourishing American Inmate-Manufacturing Industry was looking to move North, and they did what they could to help.

Or maybe it is the fact that they used our tax dollars, and every trick they could think of, to keep people from attaining the legal right to use medical cannabis at the turn of this century. Court battles were hard enough, but to hear Liberals like Anne McLellan talk nonsense in the press week after week was excruciating.

Maybe it is the fact that, after losing this battle, they dragged their heels, balked at court rulings, ignored the Charter, and implemented Health Canada regulations that they knew beforehand were onerous and likely to be challenged (expensively) in court.

Perhaps it is the fact that some Liberal MPs now tout Health Canada’s medical marijuana program as something “that was started under a Liberal administration,” even though they were forced—kicking and screaming—by the courts to implement it, and worked very hard to keep it from people as long as they could, they now try to take tacit credit for it. They also did as much as they could, while in power, to keep the program dysfunctional.

Or it could be the fact that when they did come up with an ironically-named “decriminalization” legislation, Liberal Dan McTeague took the bill down to the U.S. to run it past their government before it was even tabled in the House of Commons. The bill itself, as you may recall, would have replaced a criminal record with fines, a system often called “net-widening,” where far more people get caught, but get softer penalties.

Or maybe I see the fact that a Tory-stacked Senate will allow almost nothing that a Liberal government proposes to get through. I doubt that a Liberal government is going to waste time, effort, and the public’s goodwill fighting the Senate on pot-law reform, when other far less contentious bills have a better chance of getting passed.

Politically, I don’t think this is a hill the Liberals are prepared to even fight for, let alone die on. The argument can be rationally made that there are many issues that are more pressing that legalizing cannabis, but the billions saved and generated annually simply by legalizing cannabis would do much to help finance those issues.

Or it might be the fact that the party still considers cannabis a “drug,” the use of which—they feel—needs to be greatly reduced. They largely ignore the fact that countries like Israel and Spain are years ahead of us on cannabis-therapeutic scientific research, and still maintain a Reagan-era attitude that pot is bad and abstinence is best. Couple that with Justin Trudeau’s unscientific worries about cannabis’ mythical potency and “links” to mental illness, and his use of anachronistic terms like “pusher” (as he did in a recent phone interview with the Cornwall Free News), and what I see is a Liberal Party that is still meandering behind the parade on a crucial issue. And, as usual, they refer to this behind-the-pack position as “leadership.”

Today, we are presented with a collection of new leadership candidates, who, let’s face it, are all trying to beat Trudeau. Some of them are talking “tax and regulate,” but they fail to offer any really coherent platform as to how that would work out. Some are talking about “liquor store” models and arbitrary limits on amounts that people can possess, but I think they are empty promises. I don’t think it matters who the next leader is, as far as cannabis goes, because the party, once in power, will likely shelve this “legalization” talk on the first day. They’ll gladly pander to “youth” and sick people to get themselves elected, but once in power, it is the lobbyists who will have their ear.

So, what can we expect from the Liberals? I think we can expect more flowery promises (pun intended) to legalize pot, right through the leadership race and right up to election night, followed by years of continued promises to “get around to it” as soon as other, “more pressing” issues are settled first. The mandatory minimum sentences for growing and “trafficking” that were implemented in November by the Harperistas will remain in place, of course. You can count on that.

In the meantime, they will wait for a court ruling to legalize pot for them (see abortion, same-sex-marriage, and medical cannabis for details), then legislate after the fact. Then they will take credit for “legalizing” pot.

About russellbarth

Trying to end marijuana prohibition, and educate people about marijuana, diet, prohibition, and sustainable living.
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5 Responses to Why I’m Not Falling For Liberal Promises To Legalize Cannabis

  1. Wayne Phillips says:

    Well said Russell. Most people fail to realized that it was the shenanigans of Liberal Health Minister  H.S. Beland’s questionable addition (“There is a new drug in the schedule”) that started this whole mess. Personally I’d like to find a liberal that is even open to discussing this never mind finding one willing to deal with it.

    • Wayne Phillips says:

      Much has occurred since March 5, 2013 . . . the MMAR has been replaced by the MMPR which has recently been ruled unconstitutional by the courts on Feb. 24, 2016. Prior to that the Liberals defeated Harper’s Conservatives by a landslide, some say because of Trudeau’s promise to legalize cannabis. Although the Allard (MMPR) ruling adds an interesting dimension to the medicinal cannabis situation, it has not stopped enforcement from carrying on as if it were business as usual . . . and with the Liberals blessing. On another front, mandatory minimums for cultivation over 6 plants has been ruled unconstitutional.

      On Dec.15, 2015 I sent the following letter to the Prime Minister, the House Speaker and the Attorney General:

      House of Commons
      Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
      To The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister,

      Dear Prime Minister,

      By way of introduction, my name is Wayne Phillips and I’d like to congratulate you and the Liberal Party of Canada for your decisive election victory. I am also writing you, at this time, to get clarification about a matter pertaining to cannabis legislation in relation to parliamentary democracy and the law.

      Research into the history of cannabis legislation in Canada reveals material indicating that how cannabis was initially criminalized was contrary to the principles of fundamental justice, Parliamentary protocol and ethical conduct. These breaches of propriety are of a magnitude of seriousness such that they warrant consideration, clarification and remedy.

      On April 23th 1923, during the 2nd Session of 14th of Parliament, as indicated in the House of Commons Debates in Vol. 3 on page 2124, it was stated: From the chair: “On the schedule.” Mr. Béland: “There is a new drug in the Schedule.” The chair replied, “Bill Reported, read the third time and passed.” The Bill, which was passed on the 3rd reading by the House of Commons, was passed without specific mention, discussion or debate of the commodity in question; the House of Commons passed an unspecified commodity. It was simply referenced as “There is a new drug in the schedule.” Yet, according to the Senate Debates of the 14th Parliament, 2nd Session: Vol. 1 on page 408, what was read and passed by the Senate on May 3rd, 1923, was not that which came, verbatim, from the 3rd reading of the House of Commons. It did not contain, “There is a new drug in the Schedule”; instead, it read: “On the schedule: Hon. Mr. Dandurand : There is only one addition to the schedule: Cannabis Indica (Indian Hemp) or Hasheesh, or its preparations or compounds or derivatives, or their preparations and compounds. The schedule was agreed to .”

      In Panic and Indifference (1991), the authors, Giffen, Endicott and Lambert, detail how cannabis indica was added, by some undisclosed hand, after the third reading in the House of Commons. On page 179 under the heading The Schedule and subtitled Marijuana Giffen, et al, had this to say:
      “Interestingly enough, a draft of the 1923 Bill found in one file made no mention of marijuana on the Schedule. The file following this contained several carbon copies of the draft. One of these had obviously been put into the typewriter again, and “Cannabis indica (Indian Hemp) or Hasheesh” had been added to the Schedule. Whoever added those words was apparently under the impression that hasheesh was simply a synonym for cannabis indica.”

      A long-standing tradition of Canadian parliamentary democracy, as I understand it, has it that matters pertaining to statutes and amendments thereof, must be presented “in the same form.” Even in the instance of the consolidation of cannabis indica to the 1923 Restricted List, legislation would still have had to have been presented “in the same form” regardless of whatever powers had been bestowed upon the Minister; that just never happened. Considering there were options available to the Minister, it it makes no sense that H. S. Béland proceeded as did. The matter of the altering of documentation outside the purview of Parliament is another concern that warrants serious attention. Between fifty and seventy-five thousand arrests are made annually because of legislation whose origins cannot be seen to meet the rules and requirements that Parliament itself established. As such, it is evident that a forensic examination of how cannabis came to be criminalized in Canada should indeed be called for.

      The 2002 Senate Report on Cannabis mentions that the legislation was referred to as a solution without a problem, but what in effect occurred was tantamount to the government of the day manufacturing a social problem in the most questionable of ways and means possible. What Natassia Ciuriak’s reference to as “essentially pre-emptive legislation” in History of Marijuana Regulation in Canada does not take into consideration the significance of the alteration being outside the auspices of the House of Commons, or the implications of the consolidation thereof. It is also curious that in spite of the mention of the unusual circumstances surrounding the addition of cannabis in 1923, there was no indication in the Senate Report concerning the Panic and Indifference reference (on page 179) to the multiple files which included carbon copies, or about the alteration which occurred after the third reading and which was what the Senate actually passed!

      How legitimate is law passed in a manner deemed inappropriate by the Parliamentary system that implemented it? In light of the fact that legalization, regulation and restriction of cannabis has been promised, (I believe) it would be most appropriate and prudent for the government to deal with this matter in conjunction with the proposed new legislation. At any rate, it would seem incumbent upon myself, as a Canadian, to seek clarification of this matter.

      Thank you for your time and consideration.
      Wayne Phillips
      cc: The Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker;
      The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

      As of March 23rd, 2016, I am still waiting for a response.

  2. Reminds me of the Rhinoceros Party days. “No matter who you vote for the government gets in.” Points well taken. The only slight difference I see is Joyce Murray has their “policy paper” on her website. Maybe it’s time to dump the old school white boys (no offense guys) and have a woman as leader ~ works as an old prophecy for me: Idle No More. Then again, politicians rarely carry through on election promises. Cannabis should be ‘regulated’ like GRAPES.

  3. All good points, Russell. We know for a fact that politicians lie. Then, inexplicably, we elect the best liars.

  4. About a forced court ruling: Here is the Crown Prosecution and Federal indictment that I would bring to court as the Prosecution to enforce Legal Cannabis:
    International Human Rights. Political Crimes Prosecution.
    Federal Government of Canada: Herein referred to as the Crown.
    Cannabis Prohibition Class Action: Formal indictment.

    The prosecution claims that: Under political actions of the Crown with Cannabis Prohibition in Canada; the prosecution as a political prisoner is being robbed of freedom for the individual and cultural applications of a Natural Plant, being Cannabis, within
    * licensed market economies of scale,
    individual cultivation of Cannabis, and
    licensed business retail markets for obtaining Cannabis.

    With Cannabis Prohibition as political prisoners, the prosecution claims damages of
    $25 million dollars per day for the political actions of the Crown causing a daily threat of,

    Government orchestrated:
    Social Violence.
    Threat of Prosecution.
    Threat of Lethal Violence.
    Threat of Court Prosecution(s).
    Loss of freedom through incarceration.

    This political social violence of the Crown and damages resulting thereof is a direct result of Cannabis Prohibition actions by the Crown causing political prisoners in Canada with Human Rights Violations of the Crown.

    With the Crown actions of Cannabis Prohibition creating carte blanche authority for unlimited prosecution of Cannabis, the prosecution claims that this is a Tyrannical Dictatorship of Social Violence and government orchestrated police and civilian collateral damage from social repercussions. Including the unwarranted loss of freedom of Canadian citizens as political prisoners through prosecution and subsequent incarceration(s).

    The prosecution claims that the Crown is liable for indictment and court prosecution of
    Crimes Against Humanity.
    With the continued political fabrication of a Cannabis Prohibition “Drug War” in Canada

    With the formal indictment of the Crown for these heinous Crimes Against Humanity and the social violence of Cannabis Prohibition: formal charges and litigation against the Crown is for Social Reparations in the amount of $25 million dollars per day that the Crown fails to meet the request of the prosecution.

    We request immediately, Supreme Court of Canada and International Human Rights Authority of the United Nations, that Cannabis Civil Liberty is restored in Canada for all Citizens Age of Majority, through the immediate suspension and invalidation through legislation of the Crown that Cannabis Prohibition ceases to be enforced in Canada.

    Through this legislation it is requested that the Court remedy for the Crown is to enact:
    a Civil Framework of Cannabis Licensed Business in Canada allowing for both
    individual Cannabis cultivation and
    retail business licensed economies of scale for Cannabis sale and distribution.

    The prosecution claims that Cannabis is Culture as defined within the Universal Declaration Human Rights and Freedoms such that any of the following actions of the Crown to prosecute Cannabis in Canada with Cannabis Prohibition constitutes criminal actions and liability for:

    Prosecution charges: Federal Government of Canada has and is committing
    1. Crimes Against Humanity,

    The prosecution claims that the Crown has committed said offense with subsequent actions violating the Universal Declaration Human Rights and Freedoms including:
    Loss of Freedom
    Hate Crimes

    With the inclusion of 1 – 4 the Crown is also liable with prosecution for Federal Government of Canada (government orchestrated) Cannabis Prohibition leading to the social violence and collateral damages of Police and Civilian Death.

    Collateral damages are also stated to include the individual damage of prosecution leading to incarceration and the subsequent loss of freedom violating Human Rights.

    With the prosecution and indictment of the Crown, court proceedings are seeking a remedy of suspension of Cannabis Prohibition in Canada with the applicable legislation enabling a Legitimate Cannabis Economy of Scale as outlined in the formal prosecution and indictment.

    That the Crown action with Cannabis Prohibition in Canada be fined $25 million dollars per day until sought remedy is enacted through Legislation in Canada that allows for
    a Civil Framework of Cannabis Licensed Business in Canada allowing for both
    individual Cannabis cultivation and
    retail business licensed economies of scale for Cannabis sale and distribution.

    Prosecution to be officially filed in a Canadian Court of Law.

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