Knowing full well the devastating consequences of America’s War on Drugs, the very same day that Washington State and Colorado legalized the recreational use of Cannabis, the Harper Government introduced “tough new mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana” - a change in the law that even the judiciary is resisting.
The government followed-up this prohibitionist agenda by “changing medical marijuana rules in Canada” so that patients would no longer be able to grow their own medicine, attacking the most vulnerable in our society by turning a health policy into a crime policy.
We won’t go into the details of how Canadians feel about this government, suffice it to say that even before the senate scandal blew up in Harper’s face, a poll from the summer of 2013 showed that 70% of Canadians surveyed wanted the Conservatives gone.
Stephen Harper promised that we would not recognize Canada when he got through with it, and he meant it. Some of the policies that have been implemented will take decades to unfold and will cost Canadians dearly:
“From the environment, to health care, to foreign policy, this is a different Canada than it was May 2, 2011, and many of the Harper initiatives may not be easily undone by future governments, or even future leaders of a Conservative government.”All one has to do to fully appreciate Harper’s agenda is to read the text from a speech he made at a “June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing U.S. think tank.” Below are some highlights from the first few opening paragraphs of the speech as well as his closing statement. Every Canadian should read the full text, especially those who support Harper and his Conservatives:
“First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours…
“In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance…
“I'll end there and take any of your questions. But let me conclude by saying, good luck in your own battles. Let me just remind you of something that's been talked about here. As long as there are exams, there will always be prayer in schools.”
The question we should be asking ourselves as Harper hands out licenses to corporations to grow medical marijuana while prohibiting individual Canadians from growing their own supply, is that; Canadians 18 years of age or older can grow up to 15 kg of tobacco for personal use, so why shouldn’t we be able to do the same with cannabis?
Excise Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. E-14) and Excise Act, 2001 (S.C. 2002, c. 22), both of which are current to November 13, 2013, state that:
Excise Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. E-14) - Tobacco grown for private use
“220. A person who grows tobacco on his own land or property and manufactures the tobacco into common Canada twist or cut tobacco solely for the use of himself and such members of his family as are resident with him on the farm or premises on which the tobacco was grown, and not for sale, does not require a licence for so doing, nor is the tobacco so manufactured subject to excise duty, but the quantity so manufactured in any one year shall not exceed fifteen kilograms (15 kg) for each adult member of the family resident on the farm or premises.”Excise Act, 2001 (S.C. 2002, c. 22) - Exception — manufacturing for personal use
25. (3) An individual who is not a tobacco licensee may manufacture manufactured tobacco or cigars
(a) from packaged raw leaf tobacco or manufactured tobacco on which the duty has been paid, if the tobacco or cigars are for their personal use; or
(b) from raw leaf tobacco grown on land on which the individual resides, if
(i) the tobacco or cigars are for their personal use or that of the members of their family who reside with the individual and who are 18 years of age or older, and
(ii) the quantity of tobacco or cigars manufactured in any year does not exceed 15 kg for the individual and each member of the individual’s family who resides with the individual and who is 18 years of age or older.
“There’s lots of crimes a lot worse than the casual use of marijuana, but, when people are buying from the drug trade they’re not buying from their neighbour, they are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world, all across the world….
“Now you know I know some people say if you legalize it you know you get the money and all would be well, but I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal. The reasons drugs – it’s not that – the reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad, and even if these things were legalized I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people because of the very nature of the dependency they create, the damage they create, the social upheaval and catastrophe they create particularly in third world countries….
“Well I know people have different views, I must admit myself sometimes I’m frustrated by how little impact government have been able to have on the drug trade internationally, but we should not fool ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stop trying to deal with it it would suddenly turn into a nice wholesome industry. It will never be that. “
Stephen Harper Talks About Marijuana
So why has this war on cannabis, drugs in general, continued for so long? Noam Chomsky in a 2011 interview with ‘High Times’ provides some answers:
“Now take a look at the way the Drug War is conducted over the past 40 years. It goes back farther, but start from 40 years ago: There's very little spent on prevention and treatment. There's a lot on policing, a ton of stuff on border control and a lot on out-of-country operations. And the effect on the availability of drugs is almost undetectable; drug prices don't change on measures of availability. So there are two possibilities: Either those conducting the Drug War are lunatics, or they have another purpose….Canadians can grow tobacco for personal use; we should be able to do the same with cannabis.
“Furthermore, it's known, just from experience, that prevention works. Here we get to the question of what's the drug problem. Well, in fact, by far the worst problem is tobacco: Tobacco kills way more people than hard drugs, 20 times as many or some huge number. So that's a really dangerous substance. The second most dangerous is alcohol, because of its direct consequence to the user, but also because it harms others. Marijuana doesn't make you violent; alcohol does. So it contributes to abuse, violence -- drunk driving kills people. It's a killer….
“Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, made a pertinent comment a couple years ago. He said, ‘If you want to destroy coca here, then let us destroy the tobacco in North Carolina and Kentucky. It's a far more dangerous substance. It kills way more people than coca does.’ That's a joke, obviously -- the United States isn't going to let him do that. Then again, it just shows up the cynicism of the whole program….”…continue reading for some of the answers.