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Marijuana Decriminalization Essay

1399 words - 6 pages

The Canadian government has created many laws with the intention of ameliorating the quality of life of its citizens. Unfortunately, in some instances these laws and policies become public nuisances that do more harm than good. This has become the case with the federal government’s decision to criminalize marijuana under the Narcotics Act. This legislation was created by bureaucrats without fully weighing its advantages and disadvantages in an attempt to protect Canadian citizens from the effects of marijuana, which include a loss of coordination and temporary memory loss. As a result of passing this law the Canadian justice system is clogged with marijuana offenders whose lives are being ruined at great expense to taxpayers, and the government and industry have missed the opportunity to capitalize on marijuana and hemp. Also, this law has impeded the Canadian public’s right to use marijuana to alleviate suffering and to treat illness, and it has subjected Canadians citizens to an element of organized crime.
     Initially, before marijuana criminalization, Canadians had no major social issues relating to marijuana that required government intervention. Canadians did use marijuana to achieve a “high”, but then again people have always used alcohol and cigarettes as a vice in this manner. The difference being that the government had knowledge of the effects of alcohol and tobacco and had measures in place to control these substances. In the case of marijuana, the government did not have the knowledge or the means to attempt a legalized regulation of this product. Rather than controlling the sale and use of marijuana, the Canadian government made marijuana illegal with the intention of protecting its citizens from marijuana’s effects, of which little was known at the time. Over time marijuana has also been associated with the use of harder drugs and the development of lung cancer, but then again so has the use of alcohol and tobacco. To this day the ban against marijuana has compounded existing problems and it has created new ones in its wake.
     Presently, one of the most pressing issues that has arisen from the criminalization of marijuana is the backlog seen in Canadian courts resulting from the persecution of marijuana offenders. In 1997, nearly 50, 000 Canadians were charged with marijuana offences, up 34% since 1991 (Rebick A19). Consequently, this ever-increasing number of marijuana offenders has overwhelmed the justice system. The sheer number of marijuana related court cases has hampered the ability of the Canadian legal system to arrest and to prosecute more serious offenders, as $1 billion in police resources are wasted annually catching marijuana offenders and the courts struggle to process all of these arrests. Young males make up the majority of the offenders, with 86% being under the age of 25 and with 90% being male (Rebick A19). Even more alarming is the fact that 67% of the...

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