Don't be fooled by the Police Chief's recent pot proposal: adding tickets for marijuana possession is not a good policy.
Let's be clear: when the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) says they want to start handing out tickets for marijuana possession, it's not because they want to make life easier for pot smokers -- it's because they don't like having to let tokers off with a warning.
Right now the RCMP lay about 60,000 charges annually for marijuana possession across Canada, while they let about four times as many people found with pot off with a warning. When the police talk about tickets for possession, they're not talking about reducing the number of charges, they're talking about finding a more efficient way to punish the hundreds of thousands of people they're currently letting go.
The CACP supported mandatory minimum sentences for growing a handful of marijuana plants, so don't think they're some kind of progressive organization when it comes to weed. Like any bureaucracy, they're focused on making more work for their members. Giving out tickets for marijuana possession would be the best make-work project the RCMP could ever devise!
In a CBC debate I did with Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais, he proposed that tickets for marijuana possession should be in the range of $200-$400. That's a hefty fine, and would likely escalate for a second and third offence.
The media has been calling the CAPC proposal "decriminalization" but it is nothing of the sort. Charges for marijuana possession would continue. Even the National Post got the story wrong, saying the police want to give out tickets "in lieu of" arrests, when actually the police want to give out tickets "in addition to" laying charges.
The police are not proposing to stop arrests for marijuana possession, they just want to supplement those arrests with a big stack of tickets! This proposal will result in more punishments for otherwise law-abiding citizens with a bit of bud in their pocket.
I'm the Director of the Sensible BC campaign for a marijuana referendum, and our group is calling for "real decriminalization," by having the police stop making searches or arrests for marijuana possession. A more accurate term would be "depenalization" as we want to remove all punishments and penalties for possession.
Our campaign is to depenalize possession as the first step towards a fully legalized and regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sale. The police's proposal is just their way of extending marijuana prohibition, and generating more overtime hours for their members.
In the end, the police proposal is just a distraction from our real effort to change the marijuana laws.