Ahhh, April 20… 4:20 to be exact. People from across North America will be lighting up throughout the day to celebrate that fact. We’ve come a long way since the days of Reefer Madness and Nixon’s War on Drugs.
After toying with medical marijuana over the past couple decades, eight States in the US have taken the next logical step and legalized marijuana in full. On July 1st, 2018, Canada will be going a step further as they are set to legalize weed nation wide.
Bill C-45 was introduced last week by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government as promised during the 2015 Election campaign. “An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts.” In other words, legal marijuana in Canada, but with some tight regulations to go with it.
There are many benefits to legalizing marijuana. First and foremost, as a former smoker of a dozen years myself, it is a victory for personal freedom. Second, it is meant to keep non-violent pot users out of prison and without criminal a record. It also means the mob and drug gangs will no longer be able to benefit as much from its trade. Lastly, if the government wants to maintain those all important low corporate tax levels, it needs another source of revenue.
I will give credit where it is due. I, along with a growing portion of the populace have been waiting a long time for legal marijuana in Canada. Luckily along came Trudeau, a confessed marijuana user himself. Without him we would still likely be waiting for years. Kudos to him for actually keeping a campaign promise.
All that being said, Trudeau’s bill is pretty terrible in my opinion. I’m sure every pothead out there is rejoicing, but someone ought to tell them what is in this law before they start puffing and passing. It may as well have been written by Canada’s Conservative Party.
For starters, and most importantly, the Liberal Government is trying way too hard to appear family friendly. Marijuana legalization is a progressive undertaking. Liberals, who own a majority in parliament should not be sucking up to what seems to be conservative voters.
The law is extremely harsh on those who sell marijuana to minors. As the new law stands, anyone who sells Marijuana to someone under 18 years of age could face up to fourteen years in jail. Fourteen years. The same penalty for selling cigarettes or alcohol to a minor is a fine for a first offence. The maximum is a year in jail.
Furthermore, the law doesn’t just say selling, giving is also included. I started smoking weed regularly when I was 17. Imagine the look on my eighteen-year-old friend’s face when they hauled him off to jail for fourteen years for passing me a joint. If it sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is.
The Liberal Government is creating a whole new category of criminal in the process of legalizing weed. Under the law, Canadians will be able to grow up to four plants for personal consumption. At the same time, anyone caught with 30 grams of marijuana could face a two-year jail sentence.
For those who don’t know, a complete amateur pot grower can yield 40 – 60 grams of pot with cheap 200-watt CFL lamps. An expert botanist can grow up to a 1000 grams with a 1000-watt HPS lamp. No matter who you are, you’ll be at the legal limit with less than one plant.
Then of course there are questions about distribution. The law gives provinces the mandate to determine how and where marijuana will be sold. It is possible that some provinces will choose the state-run distribution store like an SAQ in Quebec.
If a province uses a method that proves too restrictive to its clients, people will continue to flock to the black market. It doesn’t necessarily mean a state-run store is a bad idea, but the provinces would have to be very careful.
One more minor detail that has me fuming with this bill. Arrests for marijuana in Canada number in the tens of thousands every year. Charges and fines for possession will continue until this bill is passed, but what is worse is that following its passage, there will be no clemency to those already convicted of marijuana infractions.
If bill C-45 passes as is, I fear marijuana users, growers, and sellers may still face a substantial risk of going to jail. In fact, I believe it will be more dangerous because most people will simply think it’s legal to do what they choose with it.