Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party have apparently grown a pair and they are valiantly/finally/thankfully standing up to the Conservatives on their regressive dumb-on-crime bill that would fill Canada’s prisons and costs us all $10 Billion. Canadians appreciate courage and abhor posturing. My message to Michael Ignatieff: Hold your ground. Debate the bill publicly. Courage > bravado.
- 13 of the 16 witnesses who spoke before the justice committee during public hearings in the spring, denounced the bill.
- Prime Minister Harper killed the bill by proroguing parliament. Keep that fact in mind any time Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says it is urgent that the bill be passed without any scrutiny or dissent.
- The bill will cost an estimated $10 Billion. The Conservatives estimated the cost originally in the millions. It seems like the CPC is working on a bringing an American-style Prison Industrial Complex to Canada.
- Mark Holland: “What is the impact going to be on other services at a time when the Conservatives are running a more than $40-billion deficit? These prisons become a giant vacuum that sucks up everything else.”
- The bill would set a mandatory minimum jail sentence for anyone arrested with a certain number of marijuana plants (originally 5 then changed by the senate to 200 then reduced again) which would tie judge’s hands. Studies have shown that arresting non-violent offenders drastically increases the chance that when released they will commit another crime. Crime rates have been declining in Canada so it’s not as if this bill is desperately needed (Harper’s prorogation confirms that analysis.) The Conservatives know that their policy is merely posturing so they throw people who are in possession of a drug (cannabis) that is no more harmful than alcohol, forging them (in prison) into real hardened criminals, then releasing them into the general population. This costs taxpayers money but the cost to society in much higher than that.
- The Liberals have switched on this bill and many Liberals are coming around on the A.G. audit. In the United States, President Obama and the Democrats have finally realized that the Republicans are going to oppose everything they do, no matter what. Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals need to learn that the Conservatives will scream, stomp, distort and deceive no matter what the Liberals do. If you are going to be attacked no matter what, do the right thing.
Some graphs on crime statistics in Canada:
Posted in Canadian Politics, Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada, Politics, cannabis
Tagged cannabis, marijuana, War on drugs, Crime, Mark Holland, Liberal Party of Canada, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Conservative Party of Canada, Dumb on crime
Two Great Posts by bloggers who were at Michael Ignatieff’s event at the University of Victoria can be found at: Too Much Geography and Unambiguously Ambidextrous.
At the event Michael Ignatieff was asked about Marijuana usage and Ross Rebagliati to which the Liberal Leader responded:
“I never make comments on the personal lifestyle choices of my colleagues and friends, and I’ve never felt that marijuana use or, for example, possession of small amounts of marijuana are to be criminalized or that anybody should suffer consequences for personal recreational uses of marijuana. But then I have to say to people who then ask me if I want to legalize marijuana, and I know you don’t want to hear me say this, but I’d say no.”
This has been a solid week for Canadians who support progressive drug policy. On Thursday a Toronto Judge Howard Borenstein announced he was preparing to declare marijuana laws unconstitutional (he is going to make his ruling official in two weeks) and on Friday Stephen Harper got pwned by the B.C. Court of Appeal who dismissed the federal government’s case against Insite which confirmed the injection site’s constitutional right to exist.
The fact that Michael Ignatieff has now publicly spoken in favour of decriminalizing cannabis is huge. When compared to Stephen Harper’s regressive crime policies this is a gutsy proclamation by the opposition leader.
I am disappointed that Michael Ignatieff is against legalization of cannabis. This was a brief answer so I will hold out for more nuance from Mr. Ignatieff before denouncing his support of prohibition.
The arguments in favour of legalization (cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, it has numerous medical benefits, casual use can actually be beneficial, prohibition funds gang while wasting taxpayer money on enforcement, legalization/effective legalization in Portugal/the Netherlands didn’t lead to increased usage, the war on drugs has failed so badly, Stephen Harper is against legalization) are stronger than those in favour of prohibition. Hopefully Michael Ignatieff, a former professor, will be convinced by the logic/sensibility of legalization and change his mind.
“The Equivocator” is looking expand “Liberals for Legalization.” I have a button on the side of my blog. Feel free to contact me if you are a member of the LPC and you believe in lobbying for progressive drug policy. If you want to add the button to your blog please feel free.
Article references: Dealing a Major Blow to Mexico’s Masters of Meth
Meth is one of only a syringeful of drugs I don’t think should be legalized. The United States has been moderately successful at combating Meth at home. This week the DEA led a campaign that saw the arrests of more than 300 alleged meth traffickers in the U.S., all allegedly tied to La Familia. Since the war on drugs is based on flawed premises and uses techniques that are counter-factual this progress is superficial. When the USA squeezed the meth producers within its borders Mexico picked up the slack. ‘When the U.S. Congress enacted the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act four years ago, it created a lucrative trafficking niche for La Familia.’ While some La Familia bosses were arrested in Mexico this week, most if not all those captured in the 15-state roundup in the U.S. were lower-level traffickers and enforcers (just like in Batman when Harvey Dent arrests all of the low-level criminals in Gotham City.)
The illegal drug problem is a transnational issue. The United States’ solution has been the same since the Nixon administration and since President Nixon production and consumption of all most every variety of drugs has gone up year after year.
One solution to this problem is legalization of marijuana. You can roll your eyes but the Narcos in Mexico get a lot of their money from marijuana sales. If the United States, Canada and Mexico legalized cannabis all three of our governments would make billions off of sales taxes, the gangs wouldn’t lose a majority of their funding, crime in Canada/the US would go down, the police would have extra resources to pursue real criminals and everyone would benefit.
A few weeks ago Mexico decriminalized many different drugs. This is a good first step but international problems need international solutions. Canada/Mexico/the US have been fighting the failed War on Drugs together for years. The problems of coordination and efficiency should be solved by the harmonization of policy between the countries. Unfortunately the very premise that drugs can be “fought” (one built upon the fallacious lies that cannabis is bad and imprisonment deters crime) has been proven false.
This small victory against those who make Meth will squeeze the balloon once again causing a bulge in another part of the world.
Marc Emery: Canada’s Marijuana Martyr
Marc Emery is the model Canadian citizen. He is a small business owner who has openly and transparently paid $580 000 in taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency from 1995-2005. Mr. Emery has contributed to numerous charities over the years and has even started a political party in British Columbia. The Canadian Medical Association has recommended Mr. Emery’s business to people all over Canada and he has sent his publications to every member of Canada’s Parliament. Marc Emery loves his job but it is his job that has got him into trouble. Marc Emery sells marijuana seeds over the internet. Or he did, until he was arrested on July 29, 2005 in Nova Scotia by the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration officials.
In 1985 Canada and the United States signed a treaty with the goal of coordinating American/Canadian crime fighting efforts. Canada also has “The Extradition Act” to governor if/how/why Canadians can be sent to the United States to stand trial. In Canada selling marijuana seeds is technically illegal. However the law hasn’t really been enforced since 1998 when Marc Emery was arrested for this “crime” and punished with a $2000 fine. When a law isn’t enforced for more than 10 years it stops being a law (the legal term is “Dead Letter”) for example Springfield had an old, never-enforced law requiring ducks to wear long pants on The Simpsons. This means that though selling marijuana seeds violates sections 841 and 846 of the United States Criminal code and American’s are regularly arrested under this law, what Marc Emery has been doing for years is no longer a crime in Canada. Emery who was arrested in Nova Scotia shipped a large portion of the seeds he sold over the internet to the United States. Though he has never been to Washington State, Emery plead guilty to the “crime” there in order to ensure two of his associates would have lenient sentences and that he would not face a 50-year prison sentence which the DEA would have sought if he plead not guilty. Emery plead guilty on September 21th, 2009 and now is waiting for the 30 day pre-extradition period to end.
The political motivations behind Marc Emery’s arrest:
Karen Tandy, the DEA administrator at the time of Emery’s arrest issued the following press release at the time of Mr. Emery’s 2005 arrest:
“Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today. Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.”
No one in Canada wanted Mr. Emery to be arrested and 55% of Canadians believe that marijuana should be legalized. It was not that Mr. Emery was breaking United States law that drove the DEA to arrest him but that Marc Emery has spent the vast majority of his seed-selling profits supporting anti-prohibition groups in Canada, the United Sates and around the world. The United States had to use a technicality to arrest Emery with no regard for Canadian sovereignty. The DEA arrested a Canadian citizen for political purposes and our government is doing nothing to stop this.
The Canadian Government can and should step in:
The Extradition Act requires “Dual Criminality” in both countries which, as mentioned, earlier doesn’t apply in Emery’s case, as this law is Dead Letter in Canada. If we decided to say the law is not dead letter it still doesn’t fulfill the dual criminality requirement, as the crime must be punishable by a minimum of two years incarceration, which it is not in Canada. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could have stopped the extradition process at any time from 2005 to today. The Extradition Act has a huge loophole where the Canadian Justice Minister can refuse to extradite it “would be unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstance.” The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 9 protects against “arbitrary detainment or imprisonment.” As there are dozens of marijuana seed-sellers across Canada and the people arresting him admitted that it was politics not law that lead to his arrest, Marc Emery’s detainment and imprisonment seems the epitome of arbitrary.
Marijuana is no worse for you than alcohol and the majority of Canadians realize this. The United States of America has decided that cutting off funds from anti-prohibition groups supercedes Canadian sovereignty. Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Government agree with the United States’ regressive drug policies so they have allowed Marc Emery to be sacrificed and Minister Nicholson is refusing to prevent the extradition. This sets a dangerous precedent: that the United States can enforce its laws in Canada without any governmental opposition.
Posted in Canadian Politics, Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada, Politics, United States Politics, cannabis, Foreign Policy
Tagged Stephen Harper, CPC, Michael Ignatieff, Liberal, cannabis, marijuana, War on drugs, Sovereignty, Canada, The Mike, Rob Nicholson, Marc Emery
“I get high with a little help from my friends.” – Stephen Harper.
Does this mean the Prime Minister has changed his position on cannabis prohibition?
Mexico: Decriminalized small amounts of a wide variety of drugs (including heroin and marijuana) on August 21st.
Argentina: Today, their supreme court in ruled that it is unconstitutional to punish people for using marijuana for personal consumption. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has repeatedly called for decriminalization of marijuana in Argentina.
Brazil/Ecuador: According to the Cato Institute and the Buenos Aires Herald have reported that the governments of Brazil and Ecuador are moving towards decriminalization.
The United States: President Obama has decided to continue fighting the “War on Drugs.”
The Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy has been pushing for progressive drug reform in Latin America. With the United States being obstinate and regressive in their drug policy (the American public are paradoxically against drug reform so it doesn’t really matter who is President) it is up to every other country in the Western hemisphere to behave rationally and legalize marijuana and decriminalize all other drugs.
Mexico and Argentina have taken a big step forward but unfortunately decriminalization is a haphazard solution. Marijuana is only illegal because for some reason, even though it is less dangerous as cigarettes and the same as alcohol, society has decided to prohibit it. Decriminalization says that it is bad but you wont be punished for using it. Countries that decriminalize marijuana should be lauded as the politicians responsible for doing so are extremely brave. Sometimes the government has to act and society has to catch up (see civil rights or health care in USA.) Decriminalization is a big first step as cannabis has been misunderstood for years and many Canadians believe the myths about cannabis.
Posted in Politics, cannabis, Latin America
Tagged cannabis, marijuana, War on drugs, Mexico, Crime, Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Cato Institute