Canada's federal government is refusing to let the nation's legal cultivators of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis spread the word about the CBD-rich kind. This is in spite of the fact that the chemical CBD (also known as cannabidiol) provides some of marijuana's most sought-after healing powers, according to medical studies.
If Trudeau says something shouldn't be criminal in a year, then people shouldn't be getting criminal records for it now - especially when most of those people are folks who don't enjoy his family's privileges of being white and wealthy. A criminal record traps people in the country and traps them in poverty. Almost every job does background checks, even volunteer organizations. It deeply impacts lives and when that record is due to nonviolent pot possession, it amounts to cruel and usual punishment.
Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws recently made headlines by announcing they will cover medical cannabis for their employees. But the devil is always in the details. While these two chains should be praised for their progressive steps forward, we also need to ask who this coverage is provided for, how much is being covered, as well as how this fits with the overall long-term strategy to position pharmacies as the front-line dispensers of medical cannabis.
We often create policies that are meant to protect youth, particularly around drug use. But what we actually end up doing is criminalizing and victimizing them further. With regulation we'll actually be able to start to undo some of the harms caused by prohibition - harms a lot worse than the use of cannabis itself.
The way the media and government treats the idea of minors and cannabis or minors and alcohol is very different. When a dispensary is alleged to have sold some cannabis to a minor, they face a police raid and harsh commentary in the media. But the daily sales to minors from liquor outlets is not treated like a big deal at all.
Considering this justice system crisis, cannabis should obviously be the lowest priority for police and the courts, but it's not. Not only are police launching more raids against dispensaries than ever before, but ridiculous charges for small-scale "cannabis crimes" are continuing from coast to coast.
Legalization of all non medical use of drugs is an attainable goal. But confronting the opioid crisis is an urgent and unprecedented call to action. Public health experts and their activist allies are leading the way. Let's not get caught up in complicated and protracted arguments about legalization of all drugs.
Since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, I estimate that there have been over 56,000 "police reported incidents" of cannabis possession in Canada. Note that these are not cases where people are being arrested for a more serious crime, and the police also find a joint in their pocket. These are "federal statute incidents reported by police, by most serious offence." So in all these "incidents," cannabis possession was the most serious "crime" being committed.