Marijuana and Criminal Records: Canadian Law


The following article was commissioned by CMMA (Canadian Medical Marijuana Association) in September 2003 and was published in their annual ciruculation. It is reprinted here because marijuana prohibition is an epic fail 😉

Although the National Pardon Centre does not encourage any form of transgression from the law I personally believe that a criminal charge for the possession, production and/or distribution of marijuana is disproportionate to the harms this simple plant can cause. In Canada’s current political climate the issue of marijuana legislation can realistically be reduced to one important point and easily argued on several others.

If the Canadian government, the medical community, and a significant majority of the Canadian population have come to realize that the medical use of marijuana is legitimate, then it is the responsibility of the government to provide the public with a safe and legal means of obtaining it. Failure to do so is not only ridiculous but a crime against the individual, both legal and moral.

The government should be held accountable when sick Canadian citizens are forced into a position whereby obtaining medicine is tied to a criminal record. There is no choice to be made here. Anyone who would refuse medicine based on the risk associated with police intervention clearly does not take the disease they are suffering from seriously.

As if a victim of multiple sclerosis does not have enough barriers in life to overcome. As if my neighbour, who struggles daily with Parkinson’s disease, concerns himself with the police when smoking marijuana will ease his pain!

Any argument against the legalization of marijuana denies the rights of the individual and conveniently avoids the realities of human nature in a free society. People will do what they want to do and will be policed only as much as they want to be policed. And in the presence of illness, a rational, educated population will obtain whatever they can to ease their suffering, by whatever means possible. The human desire to ease pain outweighs the human need to comply with the law…always.

We need to realize that the prohibition of marijuana does not make sense to Canadians now, just as the prohibition of alcohol did not make sense to Americans in the 20’s. The war on drugs is essentially a post-modern example of mass hysteria and it will not be won. We know this because history has proven it. Marijuana use will continue regardless of any legal penalty.

Producers should be licensed and monitored with a government program created to educate the public. Teach people that the abuse of marijuana is an unhealthy and potentially harmful activity. It is the only fair and logical solution because criminal charges no longer make any sense.

The federal government has a chance to make things different. It has a chance to stop the crime and unclog the courts. But the answer is not decriminalization. It is complete legalization. Taxes create more revenue than tickets and education is more effective than empty scare tactics. The former encourages personal reflection, the latter paranoia. So which kind of society shall we choose?

It’s time to be real. Let’s move forward. I say support the complete legalization of Marijuana. Grow it, regulate it and tax it for Canada’s health and education funds. It’s as simple as that. Anything else is a waste of the public’s time and resources.

By Michael Ashby
Director: National Pardon Centre

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