The Marijuana Party may have only obtained 0.2% of the popular vote, but their platform has generated a real buzz. Now, the Martin government has pledged to decriminalize marijuana within this mandate:
Prime Minister Paul Martin pledged to reintroduce legislation this year to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.
There had been rumours that, under pressure from the United States, the new Martin government would let the legislation fall.
Parliament failed to get the legislation through before it was dissolved prior to the June 28 election which saw Martin’s government reelected, but without a majority in Parliament.
Meeting with reporters after the first formal meeting of his new cabinet, Martin said “the legislation will be reintroduced this fall.”
I don’t smoke the stuff – never have, never will – but I support this legislation. There’s no reason why someone who smokes a cigarette can do so legally, but someone who’s caught smoking a joint will end up with a criminal record. Law enforcement resources should be dedicated to important crimes, not to chasing people with a little bit of weed.
In fact, I’d say this doesn’t go far enough. Decriminalization – replacing a criminal sentence with a fine for a regulatory infraction – won’t solve the crime involved from the supply end, nor will it help people who are legally allowed to smoke pot for medical reasons to have access to a standardized supply. The government out to simply legalize it and then tax the hell out of it, just like cigarettes. If people want to harm themselves or indulge from time to time, at least the money will go to fund the government, and not to line the pocket of some drug lord.
Sure, there are problems associated with legalization. So decriminalization is probably an important first step. And I’m not advocating drug use. But there are worse things in life than the occasional joint, and it’s time for the law to catch up with reality.