Canada Should Follow America’s Lead in Liberalizing Marijuana Laws

As of November, any Canadian caught with as few as six cannabis plants faces a mandatory six-month minimum prison term. Ironically, the new rules came into effect at the same time that Washington state and Colorado voted to tax and regulate the recreational use of marijuana by adults.

The results of the legalization measures in those states came as a surprise to many Canadians, including, presumably, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. When asked about the four former Vancouver mayors who publicly support the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Canada, he argued “it would inhibit our trade generally because they’re certainly not going to make that move in the United States.”

That may have been true in the past, but Canada has fallen way behind the U.S. when it comes to progressive drug policy. In addition to the two states that legalized the adult use of marijuana, three more legalized it for medical uses. A total of 18 states now allow medical marijuana, and 12 have decriminalized possession of the drug. Meanwhile, Canadian policy is moving in the opposite direction.

Yet polls consistently show that Canadians and Americans have grown tired of marijuana prohibition. According to a recent Angus Reid survey of 800 British Columbians, only 28% support instituting strict mandatory-minimum prison sentences for marijuana-related crimes, including the possession of six or more plants. Instead, three-quarters of respondents believe Canada would be better off taxing and regulating the substance.

That poll was commissioned by Stop the Violence B.C., a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts concerned about the links between marijuana prohibition and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province. The coalition’s call for the strict regulation and taxation of marijuana has received endorsements from law enforcement, the Health Officers Council of B.C., the Public Health Association of B.C., four former B.C. attorneys-general and eight current B.C. mayors.

– Read the entire article at The National Post.

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