Democracy and Cannabis Don’t Mix

With an estimated 22,400 cannabis arrests since Justin Trudeau took power, and with a former police chief in charge of legalization committed to “strictly regulating and restricting access” in order to keep cannabis “out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals,” it’s clear that the new boss is looking like the old boss.

Granted, Stephen Harper’s government loved the drug war and often appealed to Conservative supporters by taking a hard-line approach but, in practice, there has been little difference other than a public relations overhaul.

If Harper had won again, he would have been faced with a united opposition of activists and a team of lawyers ready to pounce on prohibition’s infringement of liberty.

In the grade-school textbook version of democracy we’re force-fed from a young-age, different political parties represent the different interests of Canadians. An election is a way to resolve conflicts over the leadership of the country without having to gun each other down in the street.

In practice, different political parties serve the same interests, albeit, some lobbyists are more welcomed than others when the colour of the government is red, blue or orange.

The founders never envisioned a Prime Minister with Presidential-style celebrity status. How many people voted for their individual Member of Parliament as opposed to voting against the Harper government or for a Justin Trudeau government?

The founders envisioned a strong monarchical element to Canada, as a way of avoiding the pitfalls of a run-away American-style democracy. In practice, Canadians, both old and new, are denouncing their allegiance to the Queen.

Now, I’m no monarchist, but the system exists for a reason. Canada, like Britain and the other Commonwealth countries, are supposed to balance the aristocratic, monarchical and democratic elements in society to pave the way for “peace, order and good government.”

But again, in practice, the Governor General has little-to-no power, the Senate is a failed institution, and the Prime Minister is the de facto leader. With a majority government, the Prime Minister basically runs a dictatorship.

But what does this have to do with cannabis?

Democracy has never been favourable to cannabis users. It was the democratic state that outlawed the centuries-old medicine, and it is now the democratic state that is talking about strict regulation based on fallacious arguments.

Meanwhile, every success in the cannabis movement has come from the courts based on the rule of law. From Parker to Long to Smith to Allard, with many more examples.

Even now, criminal trial judges are questioning why people continue to be prosecuted for simple possession when the Liberals have vowed to legalize.

Ultimately, the problem is confusion over the principles that underpin a free society with the standards of a democratic state.

There are failed democratic states around the world because there is nothing inherent in democracy that promotes liberty.

What made Canada and other countries successful hasn’t been democracy, but respect for an independent judiciary and the rule of law, as well as individual and economic liberties that included contractual freedoms and private property rights.

Principles that democracy are severely eroding.

So while Justin Trudeau travels the world, dines with Obama, and takes photos with pandas (on our dime), perhaps the police can take a cue from judges and realize that cannabis prohibition is a crime against humanity.

We are a nation of laws, but democracy permits a sort-of legislative tyranny. Nowhere is this more obvious than cannabis prohibition.