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Marijuana Use

6 May 2005, TheTyee.ca

THE ISSUE

A significant minority of Canadians use marijuana. They are criminals. We've been talking about marijuana law reform since the Le Dain Commission report of 1972. In B.C., almost two thirds of us favour decrimilizing possession for personal use. Yet lack of consensus has kept legislators from initiating substantive reform. While decriminalization is a federal matter, provincial positions will help shape national policy.

Of course, It's complicated

The use, production and sale of marijuana are seen by many as different issues. Calls for harsher penalties for those who grow and sell marijuana are legion. But in order for people to use it must be grown and, usually, sold.

The bottom line

Do you support decriminalization or legalization of marijuana use, and if so which do you prefer? Should the production and sale of marijuana for personal, recreational use be permitted in a controlled manner?

THE ANSWERS

Green Party of BC

In November, we adopted a policy www.greenparty.bc.ca calling for the legalization, regulation, and licensing of marijuana. In addition, we are in favour of pardons for those previously convicted of simple possession. The Liberals see this issue as a moral one and think more police enforcement is the answer to a personal choice issue. This is about as stupid as prohibition was in the 1920s in the U.S. Scientific research (as opposed to agenda-driven research) showing medical harm from marijuana is hard to come by. Evidence for alcohol and tobacco harm, on the other hand, is well established. The reality is that people will continue to use all of these substances, wisely or not. All government has done with marijuana-law enforcement is create a huge and extremely lucrative black market which enriches the criminal underworld. The way to end the black market is to end the underground demand. Legalization will allow government to license and regulate marijuana production and quality with proceeds returned to our provincial treasury.

Democratic Reform BC Our party is a homegrown British Columbia provincial political movement. Since neither decriminalization nor legalization of marijuana is within provincial jurisdiction, the party has not adopted an official policy position on the reform of marijuana laws. Internal party surveys, however, indicate that a majority of members support decriminalization. The party's agriculture committee has nevertheless addressed the potential of legal industrial hemp production, its 25,000 products, and a carbohydrate economy to provide a self-sufficient B.C. future. Hemp is bred for seed and fiber values-its cousin marijuana, for THC content. When the hemp farms arrive, illegal grow-ops leave. Why? Widely dispersed hemp pollen with its potential for cross-pollination puts the pot crop at risk. We have an opportunity to help save the family farm while providing clean, green jobs for B.C. communities using the most useful crop available: Industrial Hemp! Simultaneously, those concerned with illegal grow-ops will have a biological ally. Brian Johnson, Lake Cowichan-Ladysmith, DRBC hemp advocate, 250 709-1179 brianjohnson@drbc.ca

BC Liberals

Liberal Solicitor General Rich Coleman has been outspoken in his opposition to federal plans to decriminalize marijuana. He's also said the sale of B.C. marijuana has been used to finance guns for Afghan rebels, and reportedly declared that decriminalization could lead the United States to close the border with Canada. Coleman has particularly targeted those who grow marijuana, and says the Liberals are examining ways to force hydroponic equipment dealers to maintain lists of customers for the use of police.

NDP

The party platform is silent on the issue of both grow-ops and personal use of marijuana. However, federal NDP leader Jack Layton has urged the Canadian government to act on decriminalization, and has said Canadians are entitled to choose to use marijuana personally.

 [Tyee]