Is Decriminalization a Bad Idea?

Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons that cannabis will not be decriminalized anytime soon. 

“It would mean that marijuana would remain an illegal substance and that it would continue to be grown and distributed by organized crime networks.”

Of course, that’s not entirely true. In Britain, an unintended consequence of this policy led to more, not less, police busts. 

Perhaps that’s what Bill Blair meant when he said, it would “create much greater risk for our communities.”

But it is not, as Justin Trudeau said, “the fact of the matter” that decriminalization “actually gives a legal stream of income to criminal organizations.”

If a cannabis farmer designated under the old (and constitutionally protected) MMAR decides to sell cannabis to a dispensary, and this vendor sells this cannabis to customers with medical ailments, are they considered organized crime?

There are no provisions in the MMAR for dispensaries, or even giving away cannabis to anyone unauthorized by the Health Canada licence.

But as Justice Phelan found in his decision for Allard, something the Liberals must conform to by August, “dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access.”

The Liberals refuse to decriminalize based on a fear of “organized crime networks,” when the evidence, as discovered in Allard, is completely on the side of BC Bud.

There were no threats to the public from cannabis cultivation, and there were no connections to organized crime.

“If there was any ‘expertise,’” wrote Phelan, “it was overshadowed by the lack of credibility of those [the government’s] witnesses.”

Giving some people the right to cultivate, like the licensed producers, but not others, like experienced farmers and retailers (e.g the ones who’ve been doing it safely and adequately for decades) is nonsensical.

As Justice Phelan wrote, “current trends in dispensary growth suggest a connection between the restrictions to access under the MMPR and the need for patients to obtain their medical marihuana from illicit sources.”

And that liberty comprehends, “the right not to have one’s physical liberty endangered by the risk of imprisonment from having such access illicitly.”

Meaning, you shouldn’t go to jail for purchasing from a dispensary rather than one of the MMPR’s licensed producers.

What does this have to do with decriminalization? It shows that both the Liberals and NDP are wrong.

Decriminalization before legalization is accepting the premise that legalization needs to take time to ensure “it’s done right.”

The facts and evidence in Allard have been cast aside by the democratic debate on cannabis legalization.

There has been no connection to organized crime, but the government continues to make the case for it anyway.

Home cultivation and the dispensary model weren’t threatening public safety, but, for whatever reason, “children at risk” has become issue number one for federal taxpayers.

The Liberals need only to remove cannabis from the criminal code, pardon past criminals, and allow provinces to administer and tax the legal regimes.

If Health Canada has proven anything, it’s that they’re completely inept at creating medical cannabis regulations and should not be tasked with recreational duties.

For, if medical patients are granted the liberty to grow and patronize dispensaries, then by shifting MMPR restrictions to a recreational market, the Liberals will only incentive cannabis connoisseurs to continue identifying themselves as patients for the right to grow and medicate on superior BC Bud quality.

Of course, restriction of MMAR plants may put a damper on this “grey” market. And municipal regulations have been anything but “best practice.” And, obviously, anyone found working outside federal regulations risk severe punishment.

When the government has promised to legalize, but continues its criminal war on drugs, referring to non-LPs as “lawbreakers,” then what good is the argument for decriminalization?

It assumes that legalization will be the relief we’re all looking for. It assumes nothing nefarious or ineffective in the long-term project that is the top-down, strictly-controlled, legal cannabis regulatory regime.

Trudeau said decriminalization “is not what anyone wants in this country.”

But if decriminalization means protecting BC Bud, even in the short-term, then how is this Prime Minister different from the last one?