Sunday, July 23, 2017

Open Space: Bill C-45 a step in the right direction

May 17, 2017 by Mason Hendricks, web editor

The Canadian federal government announced earlier this year that they would pass new legislation by June 2018 that will regulate, control, and tax the sale of cannabis from authorized distributors. Decriminalization laws allowing for the personal recreational use of cannabis will also be put into effect, allowing a person to carry no more than 30 grams of cannabis in public and to grow up to four plants on their own property.

The piece of legislation being pushed through is Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act; it would appear that the main objective of the bill is to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people, which, I think, most people can support. These new laws would accomplish this by restricting the underground cannabis market significantly, by legalizing the substance, and by pushing the illegal dealers out of the market… or at least that’s the plan.

This story originally appeared in our May 17, 2017 issue.

I support cannabis legalization. I support putting the illicit dealers out of business entirely. I’m in favour of higher tax revenue for the country, meaning more funds to allocate in ways that benefit our communities, such as infrastructure projects, accessible child-care programs, or other social services.

Bill C-45 has been called out by cannabis-legalization advocates for containing what they say are severe maximum sentencing laws—under the new law, the punishment for providing cannabis to a person under the age of 17 would be a maximum of 14 years in prison. In stark contrast, the sale of alcohol to a minor in most provinces currently only carries a maximum sentence of one year.

Why would a person only have to serve one year for selling alcohol to a minor, while another person could possibly serve 14 for selling cannabis to a minor? The way in which society treats cannabis has always felt strange to me, especially considering the fact that cigarettes—which are known to cause cancer—are legal, but cannabis—which is used by cancer patients as a natural pain reliever—is illegal. This is irrationality at its finest.

Prohibition, as opposed to the actual drug use, is what fuels crime and violence, as it did during the prohibition years in the US, when violent crime rates skyrocketed. No one associates the tobacco industry with violence and crime; all it would take would be a government ban on the sale and consumption of tobacco to spark the rise of a flourishing underground tobacco market, which would bring with it the violence and crime associated with illegal substances.

Some people will always smoke tobacco, and some people will always smoke cannabis. We can either sell these things legally and benefit from the tax revenue and the safer regulations or we can prohibit them and allow criminals to get rich and sell unregulated substances.

I do not believe that all of the propositions of Bill C-45 are perfect, but I do think it is a step in the right direction.

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