Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »

No quick fix in new dope law

By Hempology | May 28, 2003

Success of decriminalization will depend on the reaction of courts, police and users

From the Times Colonist, May 28, 2003

Editoral (Editor: Andrew Phillips)

It’s natural that many Canadians should have qualms about letting people,
especially young people, puff away on marijuana without fear of landing
in jail or being saddled with a criminal record.

Those who oppose decriminalizing simple possession of pot have warned
repeatedly that it “sends the wrong message” to our young people, that
marijuana is a “gateway” to other, more serious drugs, that it will ensure
a clientele for the illegal drug trade and make the job of police more

None of these objections were met by the legislation introduced in the
Commons Tuesday, making the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a
minor offence punishable by a fine.

Canadian Alliance MP Rand White said the possession limit should be only five
grams – any more than that, he argued, goes beyond the amount needed for personal
use. Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the law shouldn’t be changed until police
have been trained how to detect and deal with drivers who are high on dope.

“This is not a harmless drug and we shouldn’t be introducing this into the community
for young people to smoke,” declared Ontario Attorney General Norm Sterling. Those of
us who have seen young people smoking pot on ou streets might wonder what community
Sterling is referring to.

It’s the wide availability of the drug, even to kids, that makes criminal penalties
for possessing a few grams unfair, if not unjust. Few may be caught, but those who
are face possible jail terms and a criminal record. The punishment simply doesn’t
fit the crime.

Pot-smokers will be aware that they’ll still be punished if they’re caught with the
weed. Adults will face fines of up to $400 and youths fines of up to $250, if they’re
caught with up to 15 grams, and will still face mandatory criminal charges if they’re
caught carrying more than 30 grams.

There seems to be one glaring anomaly in the government’s approach. Health Minister
Anne McLellan insists she doesn’t want kids using marijuana. Yet by allowing the use
of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the ogvernment has left the impression it’s not a
harmful substance after all. That’s an issue that should be addressed by an educational

And strangely, the new pot provides a lower maximum fine for youths than adults.
Perhaps the minister during debate on the bill can tell us why.

Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.