Pot dispensaries, cannabis cafes, medical marijuana clinics, smoke shops, vapour lounges -- cannabis culture has gained a foothold in Toronto. Some neighbourhoods have had little to no infiltration, but many have had a staggering number of pot dispensaries open along the main street, out in the open.
Justin Trudeau, in a stunning piece of political theatre, recently stood up in the House of Commons and categorically refused to implement decriminalization, a refusal that will result in a continuation of unnecessary criminal records for a crime that won't even be a crime in a couple years. Given his history on the topic, it's a truly mind-boggling stance for him to take.
Cannabis has been a medicine for far longer than it has been a drug. There are many different theories of its history, and signs of it date back to the old testament and ancient europe, all over Asia, and spread down into Africa. Ancient history is a matter of interpretation and the details remain in debate, but cannabis use was a huge part of culture and medicine in distant parts of the world. As a medical user, I do still get high some times for fun. But that's not the whole picture.
Last week we saw the Pharmacy Association weigh in on the future of medicinal cannabis distribution in Canada. They want in now, saying they should be the "front line" in dispensing the drug. It is an interesting reversal from their earlier position on medicinal cannabis, so let's try to understand why.
In Nunavut and the North West Territories, about one per cent of the population gets arrested for a cannabis offence every year. That is an astoundingly high rate of arrests, especially when compared with cities like Vancouver, where such arrests are very rare. So, why continue to criminalize possession in some parts of the country and not others?
Ending cannabis prohibition must also make right the mistakes of the past. When we legalize cannabis we must not forget those who are still in jail now for cannabis, or the many Canadians with cannabis criminal records. We want a quick and easy process for Canadians to apply to have their cannabis criminal records expunged.