Dropping Cannabis Possession Charges

Saskatoon’s police chief says police forces across the country are charging fewer people for cannabis related offences.

Never-mind the fact that last year Saskatoon police raided a local compassion club.

Or the fact that just a few months ago the Toronto police raided a bunch of dispensaries, or that Vancouver is forcing the shutdown of the shops they didn’t approve of.

Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill meant “minor possession” has decreased.

But, of course, these facts don’t add up either.

Although there’s been a decline in possession charges over the last few years, that was after a spike in 2013.

This year possession charges have remained the same as last year. For Clive’s statement to be true, the Saskatoon police would have to stop charing people today.

So far, over 190 people have been charged in 2016, in Saskatoon alone.

Local cannabis activist Jeff Lundstrom isn’t buying into self-promotion. “I think they are just saying so to sway public opinion,” Lundstrom told the media, “[Weighill] is blowing as much smoke as I do every day when I get high.”

“The police aren’t anti-marijuana,” Weighill said, earlier this year. “But we are in a situation right now that is a very grey zone.”

But it’s not a grey zone. Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief has been clear that the laws remain on the books.

Weighill said the grey market in Vancouver and other BC communities was an “anomaly.”

Yet, BC’s haphazard enforcement is nothing more than police taking priority over more serious crimes.

Cannabis is illegal here as well, but since growing, selling and consuming cannabis is a nonviolent, victimless crime, and since places like Vancouver have bigger problems to deal with, the police have taken a common sense approach.

The only “anomaly” is the municipal government invoking ultra vires by regulating dispensaries and compassion clubs.

Everything else is part of the growing recognition that where there’s no victim, there’s no crime.

Where there’s peaceful consensual relations on private property, the state has little reason to intervene.

As well, the police are an inefficient tax-funded monopoly of security services, and so are always “strapped” for cash and running over budget.

Unlike in the private sector, where cutting costs are rewarded by profit, state bureaus don’t depend on this market signal and thus are incapable of allocating their resources effectively.

Thus, cannabis enforcement takes low priority over meth and a homelessness problem.

And, as Weighill alluded to, the Liberals plan to introduce legislation next spring so what’s the point of overbearing enforcement?

Or any at all?

The Liberals rejected decriminalization based on a contradiction. If prohibition isn’t keeping kids safe, and therefore we must legalize, then what reason is behind prolonging prohibition? If it’s harming the children then we should legalize as soon as possible.

Unless, of course, certain forms of legalization are worse than absolute prohibition and will negatively impact “the children.”

But on what basis is this argument made?

What’s stopping every police department in the country from dropping the priority status of cannabis?

What’s preventing the Liberals from allowing the provinces to determine their own legal regime?

Oh right, money, power, and a blind obedience to “the law.”