Decriminalization of Cannabis: End to Canada’s War on Weed


NOTE: “This was my first argumentative essay I wrote for my Grade 12 Law class.  It was a legal analysis of the possibility of decriminalizing cannabis, and I simply argued the benefits for decriminalizing cannabis.  Of course, I royally fucked up by not including citations.  Though, despite that, and perhaps a few other errors I did not account for.  This argument I think is pretty good.  I derived a lot of quotes and statistics, something I didn’t do very much for my second argumentative essay, and simply because it just takes away from the evidence.  On this site, my objective is to write more of my articles in essay format. But hopefully this is intriguing to some out there.”

The possession or application of illicit drugs in Canada under the previsions of the Controlled
and Substances Act, indefinitely should be decriminalized.

This is because the overall basis of drugusers being criminals due to this act specifically shows invalidity, unconstitutional attributes of prohibition, and the strenuous expenses economically. Currently with drugs being criminalized there exists an apparent notion that those who are arrested under these restrictions are criminals. According to Drugs and Drug Policy in Canada: “A Brief Review & Commentary” Diane Riley, PhD November, 1998, the following excerpt is presented.
Cannabis offenses accounted for 7 in 10 of the 66,521 drug-related incidents reported in 1997.“Historically, the majority of drug incidents involve “possession” (62% in 1997) and most possession incidents involve cannabis”.  Another statistic found in regards to the highest rates of arrest has been derived from “Trends in police-reported drug offenses in Canada by Mia Dauvergne,” this is the excerpt. “Although the rate of cannabis offenses has generally been declining since 2002, these types of offenses continue to account for the majority of drug crimes. Among the over 100,000 drug-related
incidents identified by police in 2007, 62% involved cannabis. Of these, three-quarters were for
possession.”  Therefore the link between violent crime and just possession is now distinguished. So
after doing the math and accumulating the totals, 46,500 out of 100,000 of those arrested have been
only arrested for the possession of cannabis. 46.5% of those arrested have been arrested for possession
of cannabis. Since that statistic is a bit dated, a newer one will be used from 2011.

This statistic is derived from StatsCan, and the following excerpt had this to say. In 2011, police
reported more than 113,100 drug crimes, of which more than half (54%) were for the possession of
cannabis. Inherently there is something troubling about this if the majority people you are suppose to
be arresting are not even the ones distributing the illicit narcotics to begin with. The ones that are being
arrested are the ones that have to resort to being classified as criminals, just due to the fact that these
individuals are consenting in partaking in an activity that is seen being bad, and going against the
mortal grain of our society.

According to Prime Minister Harper in an interview he had with Patrick Pichette, he made the following statement. “The reason 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 the very nature of the dependency they create, the damage they create, the social upheaval and catastrophe
they create, particularly in third world countries…I mean, you look now, you look at Latin America,
some of the countries to the south of us, and the damage the drug trade is doing, not just to people’s
lives as drug users.”

How to retort to Prime Minister Harper’s statement would be state unequivocally that the
consumption of alcohol and cigarettes are actually a lot worse. Deriving another statistic from Drugs and Drug Policy in Canada: “A Brief Review & Commentary” Diane Riley, PhD November, 1998, the following was stated. “Among those accused of murder in 1991/92, alcohol use was cited in 66% of cases, followed by alcohol and other drugs in combination (27%) and other drugs alone (7%). Federal inmates also report being under the influence of alcohol more frequently than other drugs while committing crimes (in a 1992 survey, 44% had consumed only alcohol, 29% had consumed only other
drugs, and 27% had consumed both).” So therefore should alcohol be banned because of the fact it
cause of it’s implications on society. Alcohol was banned under prohibition period in Canada in the 1920’s, and for essentially all of the same reasons. Seeing as effectively that prohibition worked on alcohol, it is not that rational to
enforce prohibition on these other substances. According to another statistic on the CBC in the article
Statistical look at cigarettes & Canadian smokers regarding the fatalities related to smoking, the following is
 was stated. “37,000 – number of Canadians who die every year of illnesses related to tobacco

Of course this number is high, and is one of the leading cause of death in Canada. Though in
the last decade it has been shown that smoking related deaths has decreased. To derive another statistic
about the reduction of fatalities due to tobacco consumption from StatsCan in Current smoking trends
(2011) by Teresa Janz states the following; “Canadian Community Health Survey data show continued declines in smoking rates for both men and women, although the rate of decline has not been constant across all categories of smokers. The most noticeable decreases were seen among 15 to 19 year old’s, with more modest drops among older age
groups. Also, women have experienced slightly larger declines in smoking rates and are much more
likely to be light smokers than are men.”  People of course still smoke, though indefinitely a reduced
quantity of smokers has occurred especially in the 15-19 category. This reduction is made possible due
to the implementation of polices to restrict the advertisement of smoking. Also the various campaigns
to educate those about the dangers of smoking, and the risks associated with consuming tobacco
products. Having out right prohibition in cigarettes would not solve the problem of smoking, and
seeing the progressive trends in society would make it a lot bigger of a problem than it already is.
Finding an alternative rather than outright banning the substance in general is a more feasible solution.
Also resorting in questioning the ethics of those who would distribute these products is just invalid.
Ethics in capitalism is impossible to implement, and this is due to the notion of being able to be a
profiteer off of any endeavor despite how good or detrimental to society it is.

This is due to the fact that Prime Minister Harper is more for his ideological agenda than actually using any facts. Also what would concern with ethics when at the time of the controversial Iraq invasion in 2003 with saying this, “I don’t know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.”– Stephen Harper, Report News magazine, March 25th 2002.

Currently the unconstitutional attributes of prohibition is incredibly apparent in the enforcement
of these laws under The Controlled and Substances Act.  Decriminalization of drugs should be an option
due to the unconstitutional attributes contained with in this act specifically.

Using an instance from a case regarding possession of cannabis set an important precedent for the argument of the
unconstitutional attributes of this act. R. v. Long Ontario Court of Justice, Borenstein J. , July 26 2007
is the name of the case, and essentially the case is about the accused was charged with possession with
less than 30 grams of cannabis under The Controlled and Substances Act S.4(1). S.4(1) of the
Controlled and Substances Act  states the following; “Possession of substance 4( 1)- Except as
authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or
III.”  So therefore due to this prevision the accused would be seen as guilty. Though because the
accused used the argument of with in this act there no exception of medical cannabis being
implemented, and so therefore this provision was seen as unconstitutional making the provision invalid
using this argument. According to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 7; “Everyone has the
right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in
accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” So therefore due to medical cannabis being
used for medical purposes for reasons of well being, and over all health the Crown cannot prosecute
someone who is maintaining their health.

There is another instance just recently according to the National Post regarding the ban of the sale of
medical cannabis in compassion clubs is seen as unconstitutional. This law enacted by the federal
government is to ban all sale of medicinal cannabis through these compassion clubs. In which is
unconstitutional legislation due to the definitive violation of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section 7. The specific legislation that is being crammed through by Harper Government is designed to
revoke licenses of patients being able to grow their own cannabis. This piece of legislation comes into
legality as of March 31 2014. This new piece of legislation is the Marijuana for Medical Purposes
Regulations, and is intended to replace the current Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. These
regulations will reduce the ability to be a patient and grow cannabis to use for medicinal purposes, and
as well will drive up prices of cannabis from $4-$8 per gram.

Therefore due to the doubling in price, a lot of those currently growing are going to have to either resorting to pharmaceuticals. In which is the worst case scenario, because to terrible effects legal prescriptions actually have on the body. As well as the various side effects experienced from those drugs. According to a man named Grant Cluff who
suffers from MS spoke to the Calgary Journal. This individual had the following to say about his
experience with cannabis growing; “Only through growing can I afford to reap the benefits of this
plan.” Another series of quotes had these things to state,“a cocktail of drugs had been prescribed.”
“The fact is that I don’t need other drugs, mostly because the marijuana is all-inclusive. It handles just
about all of my ailments.” “If those changes do happen, it’s going to drive people like myself and others
into clandestine (transactions) – because nobody can afford $8 a gram.” Seeing the impact that this
going to make on people who rely on medical cannabis is negative, and this is due to medical cannabis
being the only reasonable solution outside of taking a mother load of medication. So the Harper
Governments legislation can be interpreted as a violation of fundamental Charter Rights.

Though the opposition states for this law is for reasons put forward by the fire department and law
enforcement alike. From the Calgary Journal once more according to Stephane Shank, a media
relations officer for Health Canada, stated that “the rationale for collapsing the program is laid out in a
government report. In it, Health Canada highlighted concerns raised by law enforcement and fire
officials who have connected home-based grow operations to increased potential for house fires,
mould, illicit selling and home invasions.”  As valid as this concern is maybe, to take away the access
and the right for these patients to be able to grow their own cannabis is downright wrong. Potential
house fires can be caused by any activity in which you conduct in your home. To ban something done
in the privacy of an individuals home or residency that may pose a risk to a house fire such as, cooking,
smoking, electrical malfunctions, etc. Also if an individual is growing either for a patients own use,
and or else for the distribution to other people that need it. What logical conclusion would one deduce
if they were to decide to run a growing operation in an unorganized, and cluttered mess? Mould
variable is hard to work out because depending on a homes location, and depends on the exposure to
the elements. Also an individual should be growing cannabis in a properly ventilated/ isolated room.
The biggest problem is the illicit selling, and that would not transpire if the government were just to
decriminalize these substances. Cannabis should be able to be accessed for all needs and purposes.
As long as it is used by a consenting adult, no problem should remain in growing cannabis. Finally the
break-in’s argument is invalid, and this is because it has been statistically proven that the rates of
break-in’s since 1981 has been drastically decreasing according to StatsCan (2011). The following
excerpt stated this about break-in rate.

In 2011, break-ins were one of the most common forms of property crime in Canada. Police reported over 181,200 break-ins, accounting for 15% of all property related offences. Over the past 30 years, the rate of break-ins has steadily declined, a trend which continued in 2011 (Chart 13). The rate of break-ins was 9% lower compared to the previous year, and 42% lower than a decade earlier.

The point being made about the break-in’s is that they maybe a legitimate concern. Though not large
enough of a concern to have to restrict an individuals constitutional freedoms. If these problems were
even bad enough to form a new type of legislation over why not implement a more realistic solution
than have to take away from everyone else. A realistic solution may be putting more emphasis and
education in what area that is recommended to grow such products, and actually thoroughly expecting
the grow ops and ensuring that they are all up to safety standards.

The strenuous economic toll the Controlled and Substance Act is taking on the system overall is
absolutely amazing. The illicit drug trade globally is calculated to be worth 350+ billion dollar trade.
The cost of maintaining such laws on the economy is incredibly huge. To maintain the war on cannabis
costs $300-$500 million nation wide to enforce according to a 2002 Senate report . According to the
end of the Senate Report, the number regarding the cost of maintaining the war on Cannabis; “Are
disproportionately high given the drug’s social and health consequences.”

In the ProgressiveConservatives National Drug strategy, implemented in 2007, $528 million dollars has been budgeted
towards 2012-2017 for only enforcement of the laws. To enforce laws that the majority of Canadians as
of do not agree with. A statistic derived from Macleans article, Why it’s time to legalize marijuana
according to the survey conducted by Angus Reid stated the following. “Last year 68 per cent of
Canadians told pollster Angus Reid that the war on drugs is a failure. Nationally, 57 per cent said
they favor legalizing pot. In B.C., 75 per cent supported moving toward regulation and taxation of
pot. The number of B.C. respondents who said possessing a marijuana cigarette should lead to a
criminal record: 14 per cent.

So these numbers do speak for what people in this country really want, and rather than letting
ideological politicians do the speaking for what we as a people deserve. Decriminalization of drugs
will indefinitely give people back the freedom they have deserved, and restore what they have suffered
under prohibition. Enforcing these laws, despite that crime is on a progressively downward slope, and
according to StatsCan Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2011 By Shannon Brennan. The police-reported crime rate, which measures the total volume of crime per 100,000 population, continued to decline in 2011, down 6% from the previous year. Overall, this marked the eighth consecutive decrease in Canada’s crime rate (Chart 1). Since peaking in 1991, the crime rate has generally been decreasing, and is now at its lowest point since 1972. While the only
criminal offenses that increased was the possession of child pornography charges, and of possession of

The Safe Streets and Communities Act implements now more stringent laws regarding the
possession of drugs. Increasing the mandatory minimum for even possessing even a small quantity of
Cannabis. Safe Streets and Communities Act / Bill C-10 has been under much criticism due to the acts
harsh nature. Though had went from parliament and has unfortunately put decline of any
decriminalization procedures. The rapid criminalization of cannabis is starting to get incredibly
expense and does not have majority support. An excerpt of the oppositions quote for the support of Bill
C-10. According to the Department of Justice excerpt from Backgrounder: Safe Streets &
Communities Act the following quote is stated. The Government has introduced the Safe Streets and
Communities Act, fulfilling its June 2011 Speech from the Throne commitment to “move quickly to reintroduce
comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism.”

To refute the oppositions stance would be incredibly simple. Though what is only going to be covered is the
provision in regards to Increasing Penalties for Serious Drug Crime. The following reasoning is
stated. The Safe Streets and Communities Act proposes amendments to the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act that would provide mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offenses, when such
offenses are carried out for organized crime purposes or if they involve targeting youth. Generally, the
minimum penalty would apply where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of
the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard. The response to this reasoning is that
the fundamental principles to enforcing now stricter, already strict drug laws is just absolutely
dumbfounding. Making a minatory minimum for the most petty offense, should be seen as to trying to
manipulate the amount of crime this country has. So more privatized prisons can be built, and more
unnecessary tax dollars and federal funding will go into the economic prison-industrial complex is a
failed economic endeavor. If drugs were decriminalized, and more emphasis was put into education
such as the anti-smoking campaigns will show effect towards youth not wanting to participate. Also if
drugs were better regulated than to youth would not have an easier ability to access illegal drugs rather
than legalized drugs.

In conclusion of this essay, the problem with criminalization of drugs is exactly the same as the
prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s. No results were seen, except the exploitation of people and also
street gangs profiteering off of providing a service that people are already accustomed to. A famous
quote derived from the The Art of War would be a good conclusion. In which the writer kept in
mind as this essay was being written.“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”


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