UVSS HEMPOLOGY 101 CLUB
LECTURE SERIES 2007/08

LESSON #20 : POT IN POLITICS - Part 1 


 
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Every country has different political and legal mechanisms to create and enforce cannabis prohibition laws.  Cannabis laws were passed in democratic countries by politicians that had no medical, scientific or social experience using cannabis.  Instead, these laws have been created and sustained by individuals needing to become popular with voters in the short term by appearing to be tough on deviants. The fear of appearing to favour the use of cannabis by discussing any other approach than a punitive model often scares politicians into avoiding the subject because their political enemies will likely suggest they are indifferent to youth drug use.  There are two ways to politically change cannabis laws in democratic countries: ballot initiatives and legislation.  Many countries, like Canada, do not have ballot initiatives and any changes in law must come from elected officials and the political party mechanisms that control policy.
 
The political parties in Canada cover the full spectrum of drug policy ideologies, though the cannabis laws are rarely directly debated unless the Marijuana Party is involved, which is itself rare.  In Nov 2006, Saskatckewan delegates at the ruling NDP convention voted for non-punitive approach to cannabis, but the vote was not binding upon the provincial government and had no real effect on enforcement of the federal laws.  While the leader of the federal NDP, Jack Layton, and several senior NDP politicians have supported legalization, the party has not endorsed this as a policy.  The Green Party has supported legalization but has traditionally been afraid of being known as a pot party and has not aggressively pursued the issue.  Though the Liberal party has proposed decriminalization in the past, the changes were barely an improvement upon the current punitive system and were never considered a priority.  The Consevativesí law-and-order mandate supports the war on drugs and cut funding for medical cannabis research in the first year of holding office, though they do not seem to have a public party policy on the issue.  In the US, the Republicans have consistently promoted prohibition, while the Democrats seem open to the medical uses of cannabis. 

However, ballot initiatives in the US have decriminalized cannabis starting in 1972 with Oregon and then Alaska, Maine, California New York, Nebraska, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Ohio. Medical marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized in eleven states, including California, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Rhode Island.  Every state but Hawaii passed these laws with ballot initiatives, with the others all using ballots. The first political pot party in the world is from Australia where the Australian Marijuana Party formed in 1970.  The next country was New Zealand, where the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party formed in 1996. 

The Bloc Pot formed in Quebec in 1998 before becoming the foundation for the Marijuana Party of Canada.  In 1999, the Legalise Cannabis Alliance formed in the UK.  Other countries with political pot parties include Israel with Green Leaf aka Ale Yarok, Spain with Partido Cannabis and Ireland with the Cannabis Legalise Party.  The Marijuana Party has chapters in 29 US states and most Canadian provinces.  Many in the movement believe the creation of political pot parties is a useful way of educating the public and other politicians about the futility of the drug war.  However, others believe that by informing and working with all political parties we can achieve our goals.

 

After touring the country for information from citizens and experts a document was released by a Canadian Senate committee in 2002 titled, CANNABIS: OUR POSITION FOR A CANADIAN PUBLIC POLICY; REPORT OF THE SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ILLEGAL DRUGS that recommended legalized for everyone over the age of 16 years olds.





RELEVANT WEB SITES
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marijuana_political_parties
http://www.marijuanaparty.com/index.en.php3
http://www.bcmarijuanaparty.com/
http://www.usmjparty.com/
http://www.endprohibition.ca/
http://blog.greenparty.ca/en/node/639
http://www.tlmp.org/
http://www.hempembassy.net/hp2/
http://www.lca-uk.org/
http://zope.ale-yarok.org.il/english/
http://www.norml.org.nz/index.php
http://www.ccguide.org.uk/
http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/352/Ransom.pdf
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-652/life_society/marijuana/
http://cannabisculture.com/
http://www.levellers.org/cohip/PAGES/POLITICS.HTM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15127242/
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531038
http://www.ukcia.org/politics/studies.html
http://cannabisfacts.ca/FederalMarijuanaPolicyPrimer.htm
http://espace.lis.curtin.edu.au/archive/00000242/
http://www.mildgreens.com/
http://www.democracydefined.org/1report.htm
http://stopthedrugwar.org/home
http://www.regulatemarijuanainalaska.org/initiative/index.html
http://www.mpp.org/site/pp.aspx?c=glKZLeMQIsG&b=1086497
International Hempology 101 Society
www.hempology.ca
Cannabis Buyers' Clubs of Canada
www.cbc-canada.ca