CANNABIS CULTURE – Marijuana activists are responding to the governing Liberal Party of Canada’s press conference this morning to launch their new task force to investigate and “legalize” marijuana.
The government of Canada has vowed to reform pot laws and assigned a group of “experts” to investigate and come up with a plan by the Spring of 2017, but some activists are questioning the language used at the press conference and the group’s expertise on the issue of marijuana.
“Our message is clear, the law is the law,” Liberal MP Michel Picard said. “It’s important to understand that decriminalization does not meet any of our goals, which are first of all to keep marijuana out of the hands of young people and also removing profits from organized crime.”
Activists expressed worry over the government’s assertion that they will increase criminal penalties for those who don’t play within the rules of the new system, and continue to arrest marijuana distributors until the laws are in place.
“For those Canadians who need marijuana for medical reasons they will continue to access it through the legal system that Health Canada has in place,” Picard said. “Commercial sellers of marijuana who are not licensed under the current law are illegal. These storefronts sells untested products that may be unsafe and of particular risk to kids and they are supplied by illegal growers.”
“Continuing to raid dispensaries & arrest harmless people during ‘legalization’ is like arresting gay activists while legalizing gay marriage,” activist Jodie Emery posted on Twitter. “Using the criminal law to arrest harmless people for a victimless activity is unjust. That’s the issue here.”
Why can't legalization include the Amsterdam model? Cannabis shops & cafes where you can access & consume marijuana… That's the way to go!
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) June 30, 2016
“I don’t think they’re really thinking about us,” long-time pot activist Marc Emery told CTV News. “There’s not one marijuana smoker on the task force. They don’t really understand who we are or what we’re about or what we’re trying to get. They’ve had prohibition for 50 years and by and large been very happy with that, and that’s enriched organized crime and allowed children to become users of marijuana.”
Task Force members were announced at the press conference and the list includes former police officers, politicians, health officials, addictions specialists, and university professors. No members of the marijuana activism community were included.
“There’s one very good member on the task force, and that’s Susan Boyd a criminologist from British Columbia,” Marc said. “She’s done some excellent research on marijuana and I would say she’s probably the most sympathetic person on the task force towards the consumer and the marijuana culture. Anne McLellan is of course the worst possible choice to head a task force – she once called marijuana scourge…. I’m not optimistic we’re going to get a lot of sympathy for the growers and sellers of marijuana who are currently in business. That’s hundreds of thousands of us and millions of consumers across Canada.”
Marc said the marijuana community’s interest in legalization is simple: “We just want our status changed. We want to keep our own industry. We want to keep growing and selling and having retail stores. We just want to be legal and pay taxes. We don’t need our industry given over to friends of the government while the government still spends tax money harming peaceful honest people like myself.”