Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Paying Justice Forward

"Such individuals [those whose Criminal Code conviction is for marijuana possession only] would benefit [by a universal pardon] in terms of not experiencing possible travel restrictions and being able to access more labour market opportunities, resulting in economic benefit to governments as well."
Anindya Sen, economics professor, University of Waterloo

"It doesn't require a resume, it doesn't require a job interview, sometimes it doesn't even require start-up capital -- someone will just give you something on consignment [selling marijuana]."
"You walk down Yonge Street and people come up to you [young black men] all the time, 'Hey man, you got weed'?"
"[Black youths are] targeted and over-policed [making them ineligible for many well-paid jobs. [Facing unemployment they turn to selling marijuana]." 
"Amnesty is an economic and social imperative. But first and foremost it's a moral imperative."
"There should be an amnesty because the application of the [marijuana] law was unjust and biased. [And it was] arbitrarily enforced along race lines."
Kofi Hope, executive director, CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals
Flowering marijuana plants are pictured during a tour of Tweed in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Flowering marijuana plants are pictured during a tour of Tweed in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016.
(Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

"He [Pierre Elliott Trudeau] reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer and was very confident that he was going to be able to make those charges [against son Michel for marijuana possession] go away."
"People from minority communities, marginalized communities, without economic resources, are not going to have that kind of option to go through and clear their name in the justice system. [That is a] fundamental unfairness of this current system ... that it affects different communities in a different way."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"It just seems like that discussion hasn't been happening at all and it really feels like they're [government] riding this wave of legalization, and how great it's going to be with the Cannabis Act, and how this is putting us forward into the future -- and they're not taking a look at what it's done in the past at all. And that is seriously concerning."
"It's the same story all the time in the justice system. Those who can pay for and afford justice will get it."
"If they were serious about this, why are they not engaging with more groups who are directly legally representing the people who have been most affected by these laws?"
Caitlyn Kasper, lawyer, Aboriginal Legal Services, Toronto
Perhaps because the privileged, like the Trudeaus, don't give all that much thought to the consequences of what they take for granted and how it will affect others, without their privileged access to very special justice. As, for example, when Margaret Trudeau was charged with Driving While Under the Influence. A serious public and social misdemeanor, one that is responsible for dreadful accidents and death, both to the impaired driver and helpless victims. In Margaret Trudeau's instance no accident occurred, she was seen to be driving erratically and stopped.

And nothing stopped her from playing the system of the privileged wealthy paying for the costly professional guidance and representation that would see her found not guilty, playing the mental health card to milk all the public sympathy in support of not holding her responsible for her choice that would agree with the finding that she was not responsible, poor thing. And citing in her defense the Charger of Rights and Freedoms with gratitude to her husband. Just as her husband chose to lift their son out of charges, so did their son's mother do likewise. Canadian justice, Trudeau-style.

This is the same Trudeau style that casually hit upon a number of election promises during the last general election that saw oldest son Justin, Margaret's "golden boy"  elected to the same Canadian political pinnacle as his father before him. Whereas his father had genuine political experience, was an academic intellectual, writer of treatises, the son was suited to government on a number of counts the first of which was his ownership of the Trudeau name. His varied experience limited to drama coach at a private school, and snowboarding expert.

Within Canada's illicit drug scene, marijuana is the most used and the most popular of all drugs. It is  used by people of all walks of life, as a recreational relaxant. The 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey put its usage at roughly one in ten Canadians age 15 and older and one-third of Canadians reported having used marijuana at some point in their lives, and that would include our current Liberal Prime Minister. So his electioneering promise to make the recreational use of marijuana legal, past the previous government's initiative to legalize medical marijuana, was immensely popular.

Legalization is set to take place by July of 2018. In the interim, the possession and sale of marijuana remains illegal, and criminal penalties apply. There will eventually be a legal marijuana industry for the sale of both medical and recreational marijuana. Like any other industry particularly one that services peoples' cravings, there is huge profit to be made, and entrepreneurs are anxious to get the show on the road. According to Canadian police and Statistics Canada, drug-related offences rose by 52 percent from 1991 to 2013.

It has become a profound absurdity that a popular substance given medical-use clearance, and the promise that its recreational use is to become legalized, remains illegal and charges are laid against those using it for other than authorized medical use. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, in 2013 two-thirds of 109,000 police-reported drug offences involved cannabis. Half of all offences represented possession of cannabis; cocaine coming in a lame second at 16 percent.

Police have taken to using discretion to ensure that many marijuana cases are kept out of the courts. To do this, some marijuana-related offences are"cleared"; disposed of before reaching court. As an example, a first arrest for simple possession can result in an unconditional release called a "diversion" with no criminal record, but the system reflects that first charge so that should a second arrest occur the penalty increases; conditions are placed that lead to administrative charges for breaching conditions and jail time can result.

Key details in the legislation
  • Sales to be restricted to people age 18 and older, but provinces could increase the minimum age.
  • New fines or jail time for anyone who sells cannabis to youth or creates products appealing to youth.
  • Adults could publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis.
  • Sales by mail would be allowed in provinces that lack a regulated retail system.
  • Adults could grow up to four cannabis plants.
  • Adults could produce legal cannabis products, such as food or drinks, for personal use at home.
  • At first, sales will entail only fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils and seeds and plants for cultivation.
  • Possession, production and distribution outside the legal system would remain illegal.
  • The existing program for access to medical marijuana would continue as it currently exists.

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