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CD #17: JUST SAY NO TO BILL C-26, Letter to Harper from Ted

By Hempology | April 24, 2008


Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

Greetings from beautiful Victoria, B.C.  I am writing because I have serious concerns about legislation your government introduced last fall, Bill C-26.  While your instincts may be to quickly disregard my arguments because you disagree with me, I implore you to consider my position.  If you are truly interested in helping Canada deal with problems associated with drug use, you should understand why people like me use illegal drugs and why prohibition has the exact opposite effects than it intends upon creating.

I have been actively educating the public about cannabis and prohibition with the International Hempology 101 Society since Sept 1995 and in Jan 1996 I started the first medical cannabis provider in the country, the Cannabis Buyers Clubs of Canada.  I now teach a free public lecture series at the University of Victoria, where the UVSS Hempology 101 Club is the largest student club on campus.  The CBC of C has survived 4 police raids and currently serves about 2,300 people with permanent, physical disabilities and diseases.  I will provide you with copies of our newsletter, Cannabis Digest, pamphlets, and most important court decision.

While I recognize Bill C-26 has sections dealing with drugs other than cannabis, I will focus upon the mandatory minimums for growing the herb for sale.  That is not to say I agree that re-enforcing laws with stiffer punishments will solve society’s drug problems, as I believe all of these laws cause more harm than good.  It is my position that the legalization of cannabis will be the first step in dismantling the drug laws and so I will only argue one point at a time.

The most obvious problem with Bill C-26 is that it will provide more opportunities for organized criminal groups to make money from cannabis.  Currently there is $10 to $20 Billion worth of cannabis being grown in Canada every year.  It would be fair to assume that about half is grown by organized criminals, while the other half is grown by people who avoid contact with organized crime as much as possible.  A large number of people that grow for sale do not engage in any other illegal activity and avoid organized criminals in order to limit the risks associated with the trade.

Enforcing mandatory minimum jail sentences for people caught growing cannabis for sale would not stop the industry; it would only affect who is producing it, how it is grown and how much it costs.  While many smaller producers may decide to exit the market, if the prices increase there is greater incentive for organized criminals to build more grow-ops.   Many growers currently use a system in which the plants do not grow very large and are harvested quickly.  Targeting the number of plants will simply encourage more cultivators to grow larger plants to cut back on how many are in the room at any time.  This will affect their yield, but not the quality of the herb.

Filling up jails with cannabis growers is expensive.  A study done by the Department of Justice has concluded that mandatory minimums for drug offences are not effective (MANDATORY MINIMUM PENALTIES: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures, 2002), so why do you think they will work here?  Bogging down the courts with trials that usually get avoided with plea bargains and appeals that will be filed at every opportunity, will divert valuable court resources
from crimes with victims.

While your goal of a society where the government can protect it’s citizens from drug problems by deciding which substances are available is commendable, it is far from practical and defies any sense of a ‘free’ society.  Licensing and regulating the production and sale of cannabis is the only way the government can control the quality of the herb and stop organized criminals from making easy money.  The cannabis growers Bill C-26 targets should be getting jobs, not jail sentences.  If these cultivators were properly taxed and regulated, all of the problems associated with grow-ops in residential properties would be eliminated.  No one in the cannabis industry could argue with very stiff penalties being given to anyone growing cannabis illegally, if an adequate and fair regulatory system was in place for personal and commercial cannabis production facilities.

Canadian society has accepted cannabis as a natural medical and recreational herb.  Creating harsh cannabis laws further separates government from the people, especially impacting youth and the incurably ill.  The only people that would gain from the passage of Bill C-26 are organized criminals who would control more of the cannabis marketplace.  While it may feel good to go after citizens who defy your laws, you cannot ignore all of the harmful consequences of the prohibition of cannabis.

Please amend Bill C-26 by removing all sections that deal with cultivating cannabis.  This would save Canadians a great deal of pain, money and time.  Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns.  Hope you are having a great day.

Leon ‘Ted’ Smith
International Hempology 101 Society

Anyone interested in writing a letter to the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, or the Justice Committee that is considering Bill C-26, can find mail addresses in the last issue of Cannabis Digest.  The address for the Justice Committee is on page 5.  The rallies held on Dec 17 by the International Hempology 101 Society were the most successful protests held in Canada that day.

There were about a dozen people at Gary Lunn’s office in Saanich directly confronting the Conservative’s agenda in the only riding they control near Victoria.  At the downtown rally we were not only able to get NDP MP Denise Savioe to come out of her office to speak out against Bill C-26, but the staff of Liberal MP Dr. Keith Martin contacted us to make sure he could attend as well.  We had about 50 people come to listen to our MPs, from two different parties, speak out against these mandatory minimums.  Though some media attention was brought to Bill C-26 by these demonstrations, much more needs to be done to defeat these proposed laws.

We have placed Bill C-26 on the top of the agenda for the monthly board meetings of the International Hempology 101 Society.  This summer we plan upon spending at least one day per month standing in a group on a street corner handing out information about Bill C-26.  If we focus upon the fact that organized criminals will profit more if Bill C-26 is passed, then we should be able to convince everyone it is the wrong direction to take the drug laws.  Watch the forum at for any updates on this issue.

Topics: Articles, CD-17th, Spring 2008 | Comments Off

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