Marijuana legalization in Canada is inevitable, says the governor of a U.S. state that last fall voted to legalize pot.
John Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor of Colorado, was in Alberta this week to talk Keystone pipeline politics but took time from his schedule to address the debate about weed legalization.
“It’s going to happen here, it’s going to happen everywhere,” Hickenlooper said, as quoted by the Calgary Sun. “Both countries are becoming more progressive every year, you see it in every social arena.”
Colorado voters last fall approved a ballot initiative that decriminalized possession of less than one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana for persons aged 21 or older. Growing six or fewer marijuana plants for personal use is also legal, as is selling marijuana in stores that have obtained a licence.
Colorado was one of two states to legalize weed in last fall’s U.S. elections, along with Washington.
However, Canada’s federal government has been going in the other direction, recently tightening marijuana laws as part of the omnibus crime bill, which included Canada’s first-ever mandatory minimum sentences for growing pot.
The Liberal Party of Canada last year made marijuana legalization a part of its official platform, and a policy paper from the party’s B.C. division laid out a plan for the establishment of a network of licenced marijuana outlets across Canada.
A poll last fall found 65 per cent of Canadians support marijuana decriminalization in some form, although the numbers were a decline from the previous year’s poll.
In Alberta Thursday, Hickenlooper -- who opposed Colorado's marijuana legalization campaign -- warned that marijuana is not without its hazards, noting that “high octane” strains of weed are suspected to impair memory.
“Your memory’s such a huge part of your existence so we have to make sure we regulate it very tightly and keep it out of the hands of kids,” the Sun quoted Hickenlooper as saying.
Some economists argue legalizing marijuana would have a positive impact on taxpayers. A paper from Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron argues the U.S. could save $13.7 billion by legalizing marijuana -- $7.7 billion in money saved on drug enforcement, and $6 billion earned if marijuana were taxed at similar rates to cigarettes and alcohol.
A coalition of British Columbia activists recently argued legalizing marijuana could bring $2.5 billion into the province’s economy over five years.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Oregon as the second state, other than Colorado, to legalize marijuana last fall. In fast, it was Washington state that passed a measure to legalize pot.
The conservative former Fox News host is known for going on rants, but who would have predicted <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=210" target="_hplink">this tirade</a> against the failure of marijuana prohibition? “I think it's about time we legalize marijuana... We either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we are playing in the middle is not helping us, it is not helping Mexico and it is causing massive violence on our southern border... Fifty percent of the money going to these cartels is coming just from marijuana coming across our border.”
The notoriously cautious former White House chief of staff, who urged President Obama to stay away from polarizing issues and take a middle-of-the-road approach, <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=176" target="_hplink">pushed through</a> a money-saving marijuana decriminalization law after becoming mayor of Chicago. “We have police officers...arresting people for 10 grams, 11 grams, 12 grams. A huge amount of time dedicated to that. Then, they go to court. That means they're not on the street fighting gangs, fighting gun violence... I think [the decriminalization proposal is] a smart change because I want our police officers focused on serious violent crime.”
The Republican governor of Texas and former presidential candidate doesn't fancy himself a fan of marijuana, but does <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=71" target="_hplink">support</a> consistently applying the principles of federalism and states' rights, even when it comes to medical marijuana laws. “[If] you want to go somewhere where you can smoke medicinal weed, then you ought to be able to do that.”
The Majority of Americans
You wouldn't know it from the way so many national politicians act like talking about the marijuana issue is some kind of dangerous "third rail" of politics, but polls from respected firms Gallup and Rasmussen both <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/about.php" target="_hplink">show</a> majority support for legalizing marijuana. Gallup has been polling the marijuana legalization question for 40 years but found majority support for the first time in 2011, with 50 percent of voters in favor and just 46 percent opposed. Rasmussen reports that 56 percent support legalization.
While not a supporter of legalization per se, the Fox News host <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=199" target="_hplink">says</a> he simply doesn't care whether people use marijuana in the privacy of their own homes. This puts some distance between his vision and current law, which allows for police to enter the homes of peaceful marijuana users who don't bother anyone else. These raids, which are sometimes conducted on the wrong houses due to misinformation, often lead to death for people and dogs shot by police. “My philosophy is if you want to smoke marijuana in your basement, I don't care. I'm not going to get a search warrant and kick your door in. I think that's foolish... But...if you get behind the wheel of a car, if you sell the dope to my kid, if my kid sees you smoking...I then will demand that the authorities protect me and my family from you, the marijuana smoker in public. Am I wrong?”
Juan Manuel Santos
The president of Colombia, a country that is one of the U.S.'s most important allies in the "war on drugs," is probably one of the last people you would expect to call the entire global approach to drug control a failure and to support having a conversation about legalization, but that's exactly what he's <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=60" target="_hplink">doing</a>. “A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking... If that means legalising, and the world thinks that's the solution, I will welcome it.”
The Republican former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate is known for speaking her mind, but did you know that she <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=55" target="_hplink">thinks</a> cops have better things to do than bust people for marijuana? “We need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts, and if somebody's gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things that our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems that we have in society that are appropriate for law enforcement to do.”
Who could be more mainstream than this legendary Grammy Award-winning singer? Following the tragic death of Whitney Houston, Bennett <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=74" target="_hplink">urged</a> the legalization of all drugs -- not just marijuana -- to better protect the health and safety of drug users. “I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs -- so they'll have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that just sell it under the table.”
While many HuffPost readers may disagree vehemently with Koch's politics overall, particularly his support for the Tea Party, you may be surprised to learn that he is a funder of the criminal justice reform group Families Against Mandatory Minimums and that he <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=89" target="_hplink">supports</a> decriminalizing marijuana. “I have friends who smoke pot... It's ridiculous to treat them as criminals.”
Over the years, the Christian televangelist has said some things that many HuffPost readers may find wacky, but his position in <a href="http://marijuanamajority.com/?id=47" target="_hplink">support</a> of marijuana legalization is completely sane. “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. I've never used marijuana and I don't intend to, but it's just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn't succeeded.”