Marijuana is currently a hot topic of debate throughout Canada, and has been for the past few years. Marijuana was first banned in 1923 under the Opium and Drug Act, but since 1997 the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have controlled it. In 2000, over 30,000 Canadians were charged with possession of marijuana. Currently, the marijuana laws are not enforced equally across the country, which has prompted the interest in changing the laws or possibly decriminalizing marijuana. Also, those convicted of marijuana related crimes usually don’t go to jail, but they do receive a criminal record.
There are currently two committees researching the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Canada. One committee is the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs, and the other is The House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. The Senate committee reported in September of 2002, and stated that marijuana is not a gateway drug. They also reported that marijuana should be treated more like tobacco or alcohol. The House of Commons committee’s report stated that although marijuana is unhealthy, the punishments for having even a small amount of marijuana are disproportionably harsh. The House is promoting the decriminalization of marijuana to make it legal to possess an amount of marijuana not exceeding 30 grams, which is about one ounce. These two committees seem to come to the same conclusion that marijuana is placed in the same class as more “hard-core” drugs such as heroin and cocaine, when it should not be, as they view marijuana as a safer drug. As stated previously, the Senate states that marijuana is not a gateway drug. A gateway drug is the term used to identify drugs that are not narcotics, but their use will lead the user down the path to harder drugs like heroin.
Support for the Decriminalization of Marijuana
There is actually a political party in Canada called the Marijuana Party of Canada, and it has many supporters. These supporters believe that the only route to take is full decriminalization of marijuana, which is not likely to happen. One argument of these supporters is that the current penalties for marijuana possession are too harsh. Realistically, there is not chance that marijuana will ever be completely decriminalized in Canada, as the effects from this would be damaging to Canada’s relationship to the United States. President George W. Bush has already stated that full decriminalization of marijuana would lead to longer and more thorough border searches, due to the possibility of increased drug trafficking across the border. This is why the Canadian government is leaning more toward decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana rather than legalizing it. The theory behind the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use should be tied to a national drug strategy that promotes awareness and prevention, and provides for comprehensive treatment. The...