Article by Cannabis Culture
Exiled “Princess of pot” Jodie Emery will speak before the Federal Health Committee on legalization of cannabis. She’s facing a possible life-sentence for her role as vocal activist for cannabis liberation and yet remains brave at the spearhead to fight for the victims of prohibition and lobby for craft cannabis reducers. Excerpts from her submission, as shared on her twitter page, apper below:
Introduction: Why Legalize Cannabis?
Cannabis legalization has gained widespread support in the last few years following decades of relentless political activism and public advocacy, combined with peaceful civil disobedience and legal challenges in the courts.
The Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs spent two years studying cannabis, and concluded in their 2002 report:
“The continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself.”
Cannabis legalization was understood to be a means to address the following issues:
1) Millions of Canadians have been unjustly arrested and given criminal records for cannabis offences since 1965, despite not causing any harm to the safety or well-being of their fellow citizens
2) The cannabis industry and subculture – including growers, distributors and consumers – already exists despite prohibitive criminal penalties
3) Billions of tax dollars have been spent on cannabis law enforcement across Canada, with no impact on the underground market, and with great harm caused to millions of peaceful, non-violent Canadians
Victims of decades of cannabis prohibition deserve to have a representative speak to concerns about protecting civil liberties, public health and safety. A truly informed “Cannabis Act” review and committee hearing must include testimony from someone devoted to this aspect of cannabis legalization law reform.
For this reason, I submit the following information for consideration, with the hopes of amendments to Bill C-45, the “Cannabis Act”.
Cannabis Prohibition Victims
With millions of Canadians arrested and otherwise penalized for cannabis since 1965, and countless other hardships suffered by millions more, it would be negligent to discuss legalization and cannabis law reform without hearing testimony from a representative of cannabis prohibition victims.
Unfortunately, after the Liberal Party formed government following election victory in October 2015, the legalization discussion in Canada shifted away from focusing on undoing prohibition harms to protect our rights and civil liberties. Instead, the messaging has now primarily focused on promoting exaggerated and unscientific fears about perceived cannabis harms in order to justify continued criminalization and prohibitive regulations.
An arrest – or even a police interaction – for cannabis results in peaceful Canadians losing their jobs, children, educational opportunities, travel rights, ability to volunteer, and more hardships and discrimination. Tens of thousands of Canadians are arrested every year for simple possession.
Cannabis law enforcement has been proven to be racially biased and discriminatory since its inception. Enforcement by police usually targets the poor, young, marginalized, Indigenous, and people of colour.
The Toronto Star recently obtained data from the Toronto Police about cannabis enforcement, and found police disproportionately target and arrest minority groups. “Toronto police data obtained by the Star breaks down arrests by neighbourhood and shows disproportionate numbers for Black people when it comes to pot possession charges.”
Liberal Member of Parliament and Liberal Legalization chief Bill Blair said at the Liberal Senate forum on legalization in 2016: “One of the great injustices in this country,” is the disparate and disproportional police enforcement of marijuana laws and, “the impact that it has on minority communities, aboriginal communities and those in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods.” Liberals considering amnesty for past marijuana crimes, but won’t halt prosecutions in the meantime