CANNABIS CULTURE – Members of the Liberal Party of Canada will vote on a resolution calling for the legalization of marijuana at the party’s Biennial Convention this weekend.
The resolution, which describes pot prohibition as “failed”, was proposed by the Young Liberals of Canada and will be voted on by party delegates selected by Liberal riding associations across the country. It is one of 30 resolutions to be voted on at the Convention, which takes place in Ottawa from January 13 – 15.
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The resolution in full:
117. Legalize and Regulate Marijuana
WHEREAS, despite almost a century of prohibition, millions of Canadians today regularly consume marijuana and other cannabis products;
WHEREAS the failed prohibition of marijuana has exhausted countless billions of dollars spent on ineffective or incomplete enforcement and has resulted in unnecessarily dangerous and expensive congestion in our judicial system;
WHEREAS various marijuana decriminalization or legalization policy prescriptions have been recommended by the 1969-72 Commission of Enquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, the 2002 Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, and the 2002 House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs;
WHEREAS the legal status quo for the criminal regulation of marijuana continues to endanger Canadians by generating significant resources for gang-related violent criminal activity and weapons smuggling – a reality which could be very easily confronted by the regulation and legitimization of Canada’s marijuana industry;
BE IT RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will legalize marijuana and ensure the regulation and taxation of its production, distribution, and use, while enacting strict penalties for illegal trafficking, illegal importation and exportation, and impaired driving;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will invest significant resources in prevention and education programs designed to promote awareness of the health risks and consequences of marijuana use and dependency, especially amongst youth;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will extend amnesty to all Canadians previously convicted of simple and minimal marijuana possession, and ensure the elimination of all criminal records related thereto;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will work with the provinces and local governments of Canada on a coordinated regulatory approach to marijuana which maintains significant federal responsibility for marijuana control while respecting provincial health jurisdiction and particular regional concerns and practices.
Young Liberals of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada (British Columbia)
The proposition was one of the “Leading resolutions” among Liberal party members on the party’s official website, ranking fourth behind “Democratic Renewal”, “Preferential Balloting System,” and “Accelerated Development of Clean, Renewable, and of conservation and energy efficiency in Canada.”
“What’s interesting in this case,” long-time marijuana activist and current Liberal Party delegate Marc-Boris St-Maurice told Cannabis Culture, “is there have been similar resolutions in the past but the difference this time is the level of support from leadership of the party, who have been pretty vocal about their support for getting this on the convention floor. That’s a first. After doing this for 20 years, to see the leadership of the Liberal party finally developing an appetite for this kind of policy is a big deal and a new development.”
St-Maurice, who is also executive director of NORML Canada, says though his group is non-partisan, “we are encouraged to see this issue being debated by mainstream political parties. NORML is non-partisan, but supports any resolution in that direction, no matter what party it’s from.”
NORML Ontario Co-ordinator Kevin Benson told CC, “NORML Canada is encouraged to see the Liberal Party contemplating a realistic approach to marijuana and the millions of Canadians that consume it. Legalizing and regulating marijuana is the best approach to solving the problems this misguided war has caused. It will serve to keep it out of the hands of children, generate much needed revenue and jobs, help reduce over-crowding in prisons, and free up court resources to tackle serious crime.”
The Libs were the official opposition to the governing Conservative Party until losing a signifiant number of their seats in the House of Commons in Canada’s last federal election, leaving them with just 35. The New Democratic Party now holds opposition status.
Under the new leadership of Bob Rae, the Liberal Party has been more supportive of drug-law reform and marijuana legalization, something former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff at one time said would create problems for Canada with U.S. allies.
“This bill will impose mandatory minimums that will turn young offenders into hardened criminals,” Rae said. “It fails the mentally ill, aboriginal people, visible minorities and the poor. It repeats the mistakes of failed, expensive and discredited American crime policy. … At the end of the day we will have more crime, less justice, skyrocketing costs, prison overcrowding, less rehabilitation for the offenders, less protection for victims and less protection for the public. Liberals are committed to pursuing a crime and justice approach that is evidence-based, cost effective and focused on preventing crime and victimization.”
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