Tag Archives: personal use

Canada takes action to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis

News Release

From Health Canada

Proposed legislation would provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis and crack down on impaired driving

April 13, 2017              Ottawa, ON      

                                                           Government of Canada

The current approach to cannabis does not work. It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.

That is why the Government of Canada, after extensive consultation with law enforcement, health and safety experts, and the hard work of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, today introduced legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.

The proposed Cannabis Act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. Following Royal Assent, the proposed legislation would allow adults to legally possess and use cannabis. This would mean that possession of small amounts of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offence and would prevent profits from going into the pockets of criminal organizations and street gangs. The Bill would also, for the first time, make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and create significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences.   

In addition to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, the Government is toughening laws around alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. Under the Government’s proposed legislation, new offences would be added to the Criminal Code to enforce a zero tolerance approach for those driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. Additionally, the proposed legislation would authorize new tools for police to better detect drivers who have drugs in their body.

Subject to Parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, the Government of Canada intends to provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis no later than July 2018.

The Government will invest additional resources to make sure there is appropriate capacity within Health Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Department of Public Safety to license, inspect and enforce all aspects of the proposed legislation. These additional resources will also allow the Government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

Working in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities and local communities, the Government will also make appropriate investments to train and equip law enforcement so that Canada’s roads and highways are safe for all Canadians.

In the months ahead, the Government will share more details on a new licensing fee and excise tax system. It will also continue to engage with all levels of government and Indigenous Peoples.

Quotes

“As a former police officer, I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis. In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes. Today’s plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”
Bill Blair
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

“Today, we are following through on our commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis and to create new laws to punish more severely those who drive under its influence. The Cannabis Act reflects an evidence-based approach that will protect Canadians’ public health and safety. By tackling alcohol- and drug-impaired driving with new and tougher criminal offences, Canadians will be better protected from impaired drivers and the number of deaths and accidents on our roads will be reduced.”
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“The bills we propose today are aiming at putting drug dealers and organized crime out of the cannabis business. It will allow law enforcement to focus on other serious offences, including the distribution of cannabis to children and youth and driving under the influence of drugs. Drug-impaired driving puts the lives and the safety of drivers and passengers at risk every day, and we will lead a wide-ranging campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired. The proposed Bill will also provide more tools and stronger laws to punish more severely drivers who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis. We will continue to work with our law enforcement, provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders to develop a consistent enforcement approach and to provide support in building capacity across the country.”
The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“The Cannabis Act will help keep our children safe and address the health risks associated with cannabis. The proposed legislation would allow Canadian adults to possess and purchase regulated and quality-controlled cannabis products, while prohibiting sales to young Canadians and any products, promotion, packaging or labelling that could be appealing to young people.”
The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Quick Facts

  • The Cannabis Act proposes that legal sales of cannabis would be restricted to people who are 18 years of age and over. Provinces and territories could increase the minimum legal age of sale, purchase and consumption.
  • The movement of cannabis and cannabis products across international borders would remain a serious criminal offence.
  • Following Royal Assent, the Government intends to bring the proposed Act into force no later than July 2018. At that time, adults would legally be able to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public, and to grow up to four plants per household at a maximum height of one metre from a legal seed or seedling. Until the new law comes into force, cannabis will remain illegal everywhere in Canada, except for medical purposes.
  • The provinces and territories would authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, subject to minimum federal conditions. In those jurisdictions that have not put in place a regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer with secure home delivery through the mail or by courier.
  • The proposed legislation would amend the Criminal Code to modernize and simplify the transportation provisions, strengthen the criminal law responses to impaired driving, and facilitate the effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of drug- and alcohol-impaired driving.
  • To facilitate detection and investigation of drug-impaired driving, law enforcement officers will be authorized and equipped to use oral fluid drug screeners at the roadside.

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Contacts

David Taylor
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca

Andrew MacKendrick
Office of the Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983

Scott Bardsley
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
613-998-5681

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada
613-991-0657
media@ps-sp.gc.ca

Public Inquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866 225-0709

SOURCE LINK

Ian Bell: Let’s end the war on drugs by making them legal

An Italian policeman holds a bag full of cocaine which was found in a car in the Scampia area of  Naples

IT could be a pub quiz question. What do Armenia and Argentina have in common? The Czech Republic and Chile? Paraguay and Poland? The answer isn’t football. Each has decided, in some fashion, that if you just say no to drugs, you say nothing useful at all.

Depending on the definitions used, there are between 25 and 30 such countries. Their laws, methods, aims and ambitions vary. Some have legalised drugs. Some have “re-legalised”. A few never got around to prohibition to begin with. Most have experimented – for personal use, you understand – with a gateway policy, decriminalisation.

Last week the Republic of Ireland decided, in effect, that what’s good enough for Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Estonia, the Netherlands and others might help with its own liberation from the half-century of failure we still call, without irony, the war on drugs. With a leaked report suggesting that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is on the brink of advocating decriminalisation, Ireland joins a growing consensus.

Britain doesn’t want to hear about that. Or rather, the Conservative Government doesn’t want to hear the accusation “soft on drugs” from its press sponsors. Amid a fragrant haze of hypocrisy, the line is that there will be no change, funding cuts aside, in UK drugs strategy. Meanwhile, police forces the length of these islands are improvising policies of their own.

In Ireland, serious thinking has been going on. The result, if carried through, will be the decriminalisation of drugs in “personal use” quantities combined with the introduction of injection (“consumption”) rooms. Narcotics will remain illegal, but in future – or such is the hope – no-one will be treated as a criminal because of an addiction or a problematic habit. The Irish are making a fundamental distinction.

Officially, Britain remains tough, tougher than tough, on drugs. Unofficially, an ad hoc pragmatism guides enforcement. A fall of close to a third in cannabis possession offences in England and Wales between 2011-12 and 2014-15 has not happened because dope has lost its allure. With budgets cut to ribbons, police forces have concluded they have better things to do than harass cannabis users.

There are worse principles a government could apply. In a speech at the London School of Economics last Monday, Aodhain O’ Riordain, the Irish minister responsible for drugs strategy, maintained that a “cultural shift” is required. Addiction should be regarded as a health issue, he argued, both for the sake of individuals and for the benefit of law enforcement. Time and money spent hunting addicts could be better used against a criminal trade.

O’Riordain advocates decriminalisation, not legalisation. He is not alone in that, though at the LSE he failed to explain the logic. Portugal’s experience over the last 14 years is the Irish minister’s inspiration, as it is for many reluctant conscripts in the war on drugs, but a conspicuous Iberian success remains half an answer to a complicated question.

With Europe’s highest HIV infection rate among injecting drugs users, Portugal faced an undoubted crisis at the turn of the century. Desperate, it decided that drug use or possession should remain offences, but not criminal offences. The money spent on treatment and prevention was doubled. The police meanwhile began to ignore mere marijuana use. And the HIV rate started to fall.

It has not been plain sailing since. According to some studies, hard drug use has increased. More people have sought treatment, perhaps as a result, but the number of drug-related deaths has declined. Pressure on courts has eased, meanwhile, and the street price of drugs has fallen. Adolescent use seems to be waning, but with the police still seizing several tonnes of cocaine each year, the effect of reform on organised crime has been hard to measure.

That, though, is an aspect of decriminalisation too often overlooked. On its own, without a wider health policy or O’Riordain’s “person-centred” strategy, it does not “solve” a narcotics problem. Chiefly, it spares individuals the brutal effects – prison, stigma, unemployment, existence without treatment or medical care – that are legacies of the unending war. But decriminalisation alone is not enough.

It counts as a start, nevertheless, and that is more than Britain has managed. Last October, the Home Office caused strife within the coalition by publishing a report, Drugs: International Comparators, that looked at the experience of Portugal and a dozen other countries. To the dismay of Tories, the survey said there was “no apparent correlation” between tough laws and the level of drug use. While decriminalisation would not curb use, there were “indications that decriminalisation can reduce the burden on criminal justice systems”.

Who’d have thought? In the ensuing battle, the LibDem Norman Lamb resigned as a Home Office minister while policy – “this government has absolutely no intention of decriminalising drugs” – was reaffirmed. Faced with a problem, Britain had not got beyond failing to put two and two together.

Why decriminalise? For an Irish recreational user, far less an addict, the question is superfluous. Nevertheless, O’Riordain, like his peers around the world, has taken a first step and refused the second. As the Home Office report suggested, decriminalisation has little effect on use. People go on buying their blood-stained substances and enriching some of the nastiest people on the planet. A few more police go to work hunting traffickers. Users are no longer persecuted. The mafias remain.

In 2006, the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano published Gomorrah, an expose, in the proper sense, of the Neapolitan Camorra. He has been forced to live since under armed guard in secret locations. Nevertheless, this summer he published Zero Zero Zero, a title derived from a traffickers’ joke name for pure cocaine. The book is horrifying, but not just for the routine, fantastical violence. In Saviano’s account, the cartels’ trade has corrupted the world.

UNODC will mention “vast sums” that “compromise” economies, buy politicians and rig elections. Saviano will tell you that drugs money courses through the world’s financial systems, that it touches all of us, and that it alone kept banking afloat in parts of the Americas during the great crash. He calls it narco-capitalism.

The journalist has dedicated his life to opposing the mafias. Nevertheless, in the last pages of Zero Zero Zero he writes: “As terrible as it may seem, total legalisation may be the only answer. A horrendous response, horrible perhaps, agonising. But the only one that can stop everything.”

That strikes me as true. By one calculation, the United States alone had spent $150 billion on the drugs war by 2010. Any victories? Or just the news that Barack Obama has been commuting sentences on dozens of hapless souls locked away for life because of recreational use? According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as of September 26, 48.4 per cent of the entire US inmate population, 93,821 individuals, had been locked up for drug offences. Some war; some victory.

So legalise the lot. Those who want to use drugs will go on using drugs. In a country with common sense, like Ireland, they might get the help they need. But Saviano is right. Only one thing will put the traffickers out of business and end this hopeless war.

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