Legalizing recreational marijuana was part of Justin Trudeau’s election campaign platform, but it wasn’t something many people took seriously. What with the common mistrust of politicians and the opposition of the very powerful Hell’s Angels gang, who stand to lose a lot of revenue if pot becomes legal, it was hard to take Trudeau’s proposition seriously.
That’s why I was surprised to hear that the Federal Health Minister had announced plans to legalize marijuana by 2017. CBC’s recent episode of Cross Country Checkup gave Canadians an opportunity to respond with a few of their thoughts on the new legislation. Many of the callers brought some great points to my attention, some of which I’ve touched on below. However, it was apparent that some callers were still buying into weed propaganda, from exaggerated health benefits to exaggerated threats. For this post I decided to pull together a few of the best arguments I’ve heard from both camps and try to find at least a little research to support their claims.
Pros of Legalization
1. Legalization could reduce an unnecessary drain on police resources
According to Stats Canada, “in 2012, 43% of Canadians reported that they had used marijuana at some time in their lives, and 12% reported using it in the past year”. That means half of all Canadians could have been charged with possession at one time or another. Although in some places police will turn a blind eye to mere pot possession, there are still a significant number of cases reported by police. CBC explains that
there were 57,314 marijuana possession-related “incidents” reported by police nationwide, according to Statistics Canada. More than 24,540 people were charged as a result. The year before that, 25,819 Canadians faced charges.
What’s disconcerting about this grey area of crime is that police can often use their discretion when it comes to actually prosecuting an offence. According to a recent CBC News analysis, where you live can affect if you will be charged. They report that “you’re almost 23 times more likely to face a possession charge in Kelowna, B.C., than in St. John’s.”
Marijuana use is so widespread that it is taking a massive amount of police resources to even pursue pot users. According to a report last year, “police report a pot possession incident every 9 minutes in Canada”. Inevitably, chasing down the almost endless amount of pot users and dealers takes police away from pursuing other criminal activity. Continue reading