Legalization vs. Decriminalization

There is a municipal document floating around expected to be the blueprint for municipal cannabis regulations province-wide. While the document is full of factual errors, one glaring observation is this false dichotomy:

Legalization vs. Decriminalization

Legalization refers to the repeal or abolishment of laws that prohibit the use, sale and possession of cannabis and/or the establishment of new legislation that permits use under certain conditions or restrictions. Decriminalization is the reduction or repeal of criminal penalties imposed for the use, sale, and/or possession of cannabis while cannabis remains illegal or unregulated by the state.

When Pierre Elliot Trudeau legalized homosexuality, he didn’t set up a commission or a task force to study the policy. He didn’t appoint ministers or introduce new legislation with conditions and restrictions.

Once upon a time, legalization and decriminalization were synonymous.

By the government’s own logic, young people are at more risk with prohibition than legalization. Therefore, Trudeau is responsible for a lot of unnecessary arrests and criminal records of young people.

If “think of the children” were more than a political meme, then Trudeau would have decriminalized already.

Decriminalization doesn’t solve the supply issue, Trudeau reminds us. But since 95% of the industry is peaceful anyway, when faced with this ethical dilemma, the right choice is decriminalization.

Allocate police resources to something other than dispensary raids. Even though decriminalization in Britain led to more fines and arrests, a decriminalization of the entire industry could mean current police resources diverted to finding impaired drivers instead of further budget increases under “legalization” for the exact same thing.

If we instead define decriminalization as “the reduction or repeal of criminal penalties imposed for the use, growth, refinement, sale, and/or possession of cannabis while cannabis remains illegal or unregulated by the state,” then we could stay in that limbo forever. Others would want to join us, I guarantee it.

Decriminalization of cannabis would alleviate the opioid crisis that has already killed thousands of Canadians.

Those deaths are on the hands of prohibitionists like Trudeau.

Decriminalization of cannabis also means decriminalizing what hemp farmers do with their stocks, roots and other leftovers the government currently demands they destroy.

When hemp farmers can grow and sell without interference from the state, more environmentally-friendly industrial hemp can reach the market sooner.

This means the price of medicinal CBD oil can come down.

Legalization costs taxpayers money because the Liberal government is good at creating a “Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term.”

But communities and neighbourhoods are capable of governing themselves without the influence or interference of Ottawa.

Rather than bringing cannabis into the regulatory fold, it would be better to eliminate licenses and regulations for other businesses and sectors.

Regulatory and security services are complex, capital-intensive industries that either operate by profit and loss (serving willing consumers and competing for their patronage) or by government fiat. That is, taxation and bureaucracy.

Decriminalizing cannabis demands a return to something once a common feature of Western civilization but now increasingly verboten: laissez-faire capitalism.