The Legalization of Marijuana in Canada

RANDY RISLING / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

I wanted to give my thoughts on the impending legalization of marijuana. Way back in October 2015, Justin Trudeau became the 23rd prime minister of Canada. One of his promises that became a focal point for his young supporters was the legalization of marijuana. Fast forward to September 2017, and while the process is in effect, it is not expected to be officially legal until Canada Day of 2018, July 1st.

On this long road to legalization, one would think that as the date gets closer, the laws become more lax. However, that is not the case as raids have been happening all summer. An interesting point to note is that, none of the arrests actually turned in to trials. Rather, the possessions were seized in what many perceive as a intimidating statement from the city’s law enforcement.  The grey area currently occupied by marijuana dispensaries in the city is sure to fall under increased scrutiny until legalization. Personally, I think this is just a choke hold attempt by law enforcement to limit cash flows from marijuana sales that are not being fed in to government hands.

My next point references all the individuals who have been arrested due to possession or distribution of marijuana. How do we approach this issue? For many of those arrested, including myself, we knew all along that there wasn’t a problem with this drug. The government has clearly been fighting an uphill battle with the War on Drugs. We’ve already paid the consequences or still are in the form of criminal records. Legislation will have to consider rectification for people who still have marijuana charges on their records. There are a lot of people who have paid fees to the government and lawyers, and gave up copious grams of marijuana only to have the government regulate it and profit off it several years later. The War on Drugs will continue to be seen as a dark stain in North American politics, as well as the lack of understanding from a government which has brainwashed people in to associating certain personality traits with people that use drugs outside the realms of alcohol and tobacco. I think evidence in history shows that the laws have always been reactive and lagging behind the opinions of the general population. Take for example the legalization of gay marriage. The facts at hand regarding marijuana use and its benefits have been around long before the new legislation to legalize marijuana.

My second and final point takes in to account the school-to-prison pipeline. In Toronto, blacks are arrested for marijuana possession at a disproportionate rate to whites, about three to one. This ratio considers those without prior criminal convictions. A lot of the youth start their road to crime with minor marijuana possession conviction. I won’t go in to too much detail outlining the school-to-prison pipeline itself, but I will recommend you watch the ‘13TH’ on Netflix to fully grasp its impact. What bothers me is that a lot of minorities and communities with minorities were distributing marijuana have suffered immensely as a result of the War on Drugs. It is troubling that many older white males who run these big corporations will see payouts as well as those working for the government, while the local hustler sits in a cell.

I wanted to leave it at those two points for you to soak in. I will keep my eyes on the news as it approaches July 1st.

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