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Toronto Ontario, Canada.:

A man was arrested for carrying 3.5 grams of marijuana, and subsequently used a new defense in court.

In court, the man argued that the federal government only made it policy to provide marijuana to those who need it, but never made it an actual law. Because of that, he argued, all possession laws, whether medicinal or not, should be quashed.

The judge.....agreed....And then threw out the charges

Crossposted at A Creative Revolution

This is a big day in Canada. This ruling could be used in a lot of cases, past and present.

In the meanwhile:

"That's probably why the government will likely appeal the decision," he said.
Borenstein has given prosecutors two weeks before he makes his ruling official. Prosecutors told CBC News they want a speedy appeal to overturn the decision.
"For the time being, nothing changes," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said about how the force deals with marijuana possession. "We have to wait and see what happens with the process through the courts."
Judge rules Canada's pot possession laws unconstitutional

This comes on the heels of some other new information last month...

over half of Canadians (55%) support legalizing marijuana altogether. The same
is not true of other illegal drugs, with roughly nine-in-ten opposing the legalization of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and crystal meth.

This next paragraph is rather thought provoking. As it asks the question of how informed people are, and where they get their information?

Canadians with lower incomes and those with less educational years are more likely to feel that drug abuse is a serious national problem, not a concern localized to specific areas. Those with higher incomes and more education are more likely to oppose the loss of the Liberal programs of pot decriminalization and harm-reduction.


DRUGS A NATIONAL PROBLEM—CANADIANS
WOULD MIX GRIT & TORY POLICIES

Tee Vee?

Public sentiment, hasn’t had any effect on the Harper Conservatives currently ensconced with a minority government in Canada, in fact the amount of arrests has gone up. The Harper Government wants to be a part of the US war on drugs/terrer/civil rights. If the Bush republicans tell Harper to jump, he just asks "how high"?
We almost got there once....

From 2003:
A top White House drug policy official is threatening retaliation from the U.S. if Canada relaxes its laws against marijuana possession.
David Murray, right-hand man to U.S. "drug czar" John Walters, says he doesn't want to tread on another country's sovereignty, but warned there would be consequences if Canada proceeds with a plan to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.

U.S. warns Canada against easing pot laws

But as the numbers now show, we are wasting precious resources and time. The Harper conservatives also want to phase out safe injection sites, because they say there is no evidence to show they work, despite the actual evidence......

Injection site study challenges Harper government

OTTAWA–The number of people arrested for smoking pot rose dramatically in several Canadian cities last year after the Conservatives took office and killed a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
The spike in arrests for simple possession of cannabis appears in data compiled by The Canadian Press from municipal police forces through interviews and Access to Information Act requests.
National statistics will be released next week, but preliminary figures suggest the number of arrests jumped by more than one-third in several Canadian cities.
Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax reported increases of between 20 and 50 per cent in 2006, while Montreal and Calgary saw their number of arrests dip a few percentage points from the previous year.

Pot busts bounce back

So. We have public opinion saying that over 50% of Canadians want to loosen the pot laws, or decriminalize altogether.
We have a Government who would like noting better than to incarcerate many many people carrying even small amounts of marijuana.  The Harper Conservatives are also moving towards privatizing the prison system, so someone will make some money from it. Never worry.
Indeed, the current policies involving all illegal drugs in Canada, cause more harm than good according to The Canadian Foundation for drug policy

And then we have a Judge who dismisses a case, agreeing that the current policies are "unconstitutional".

I would say it’s a great time to act on legalizing it, and concentrating on drugs that are causing actual harm to the general public.

Good luck with that until the grown ups come back into power.

Further reading: Iconic Canadians and Baby Boomers.
Boomers and reefers
Update: I forgot this....heh

And if you have an interest in Canadian and world politics, come visit our spanking new blog, A Creative Revolution
"I think the vision for this blog is sort of a pacifist anarchistic bit of S*it disturbing - with lots of music."-pale

Originally posted to pale's Purgatory on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 09:36 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh, THOSE boomers (6+ / 0-)

    That's not the usual context I see "boomers and reefer" together in.

    Life to you is a dashing and bold adventure. -4.48, -4.56

    by pseudopod on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 09:35:37 PM PDT

  •  Also noted (5+ / 0-)

    In a completely less informative and prone to brevity edition of OND by OCD™

    Experience may differ in online play...

    by OCD on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 09:36:37 PM PDT

  •  During Trial By Jury (8+ / 0-)

    there is also the possibility of acquittal by Jury Nullification which, I understand, was often used during the Alcohol Prohibition to say "the law does not apply" to the case. Even some conservatives have found this applicable to cases involving personal possession of marijuana.

    •  It's not a bad thing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb, eastmt, phaktor

      But it's too case by case.  If the goal is to change the law (which it should be re: pot), jury nullification in a particular case is just a minor battle.  It's good, don't get me wrong, but we need victories that are permanent and binding.

    •  Good wedge issue? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Uthaclena, eastmt, pale cold, phaktor

      The libertarian-ish right and the religious right are very split on this issue.  If there were some way of making it politically safe (the Dems don't want to be the party of legalization, no matter how right it is as a matter of policy), it could really tear the righty coalition apart.

      Perhaps we could campaign to make it a states' rights issue?  That would split the federalist conservatives from the religious ones fast and hard.

  •  Not to rub it in, (14+ / 0-)

    but I am so damn happy and proud to be a Permanent Resident of Canada!

  •  Re: class and drugs (7+ / 0-)

    Canadians with lower incomes and those with less educational years are more likely to feel that drug abuse is a serious national problem, not a concern localized to specific areas.

    They're probably the ones most likely to live in shitty areas with lotsa drug problems.  And drug problems in major shithole city areas isn't a small problem.  That doesn't really bear on the debate over pot, but the poor have a reasonable point.

    Living in a crack infected area, or meth, or whatever, sucks ass.

    •  Most of the conservative (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, Bouwerie Boy, phaktor

      voting areas, who side with the conserves on most issues, live outside of the major cities.
      Certainly there are segments of the population who live in the areas like the lower East side of Vancouver. (very bad area for drugs) but Canada is still quite rural in many ways.

      If you beleive you can tell me what to think, I beleive I can tell you where to go....

      by pale cold on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 10:16:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  how much of it is a problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pale cold, phaktor

      because it's connected to violent gangs which are in a profitable business of drug dealing because DRUGS ARE ILLEGAL?

    •  Essentially all of the "problems" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, FrankFrink

      of this type are much more reasonably attributed to the contraband status of the substances rather than the substances themselves. If the drugs were not illegal, the criminals would not be in control, because the drugs would be cheap and there would be no need for violence and organized crime to distribute them and to protect the users. The most telling example of this is the overnight collapse of Al Capone's empire when prohibition ended. He was one of the most powerful men in the U.S. because of the profits from bootlegging, and he was a "nobody" within 24 hours of repeal. Obviously, the same thing is going on with drugs. It is so incredibly clear that no arguments need be made. Just think about it. What are the real causes of the danger in these communities? It is the dealers-- not the drugs. We can take the dealers out overnight by legalizing the drugs. They will become worms to be stomped on. Nobody would need them anymore.

      (-,-) "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain

      by phaktor on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:31:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Soon it will be time -- (6+ / 0-)

    to legalize the stuff here in the US, and cut a bit into the profits of the shadow government forces that make such big money off of the stuff 'round the globe...

    "I don't recall." -- Ronald Reagan

    by Cassiodorus on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 10:22:46 PM PDT

    •  Good Idea. We Should Also Cut Way Back (4+ / 0-)

      on the military since there's so little appropriate threat for it.

      I'm dropping this into the government suggestion box but I'm writing it with latex gloves on because I don't want them to have my prints.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 10:32:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought they knew who we all are! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, pale cold

        You must be on a better internet than me. I think homeland security has software that probably shows your name and address next to your user id!

        (-,-) "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain

        by phaktor on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:34:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I saw that headline the other day (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills, FrankFrink, pale cold, phaktor

    concering the number of pot related arrests in Canada and how they've dramatically risen since the Harper government took over.    Sadly, the police unions and the conservative government will never ask themselves this simple question, "What have we achieved?"  

  •  I Almost Made It There to Help You (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills, FrankFrink, phaktor

    but mom got too sick to bring along, so we had to stop our application.

    Some of us from down here have been trying to tell you what conservatives are about in this day and age.

    I hope you're seeing the signs early enough to repent.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 10:31:09 PM PDT

  •  Tme to go to Canada (5+ / 0-)

    Need to get medical care, cheap prescription drugs and of course marijuana.

  •  Pale! (4+ / 0-)

    New blog.

    What happened to the old one? Seriously, do you know anything about what happened?

  •  As a proud Torontonian, I will smoke in (4+ / 0-)

    celebration right.....

    now :P

  •  Excellent diary, but I have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OHdog

    my regular gripe, which is intended to be constructive. You write :

    I would say it’s a great time to act on legalizing it, and concentrating on drugs that are causing actual harm to the general public.

    The War on Drugs is quickly becoming a discredited fraud in the eyes of most people, but there is obviously a lot of work to do. The "common sense" of drug prohibition is deeply embedded in public discourse, and it is supported and aggravated by powerful industries with profit motives. It is going to be a very difficult chore to get the truth out. If we are going to get rid of this horror, everyone effected by the fraud is going to have to work together.

    A lot of support for dismantling the drug war comes from what I call the "hemp worship" community, which consists of many people who believe marijuana is something they have a right to use. This group also includes a lot of people who see marijuana as an effective medicine. The arguments from this group include an ever expanding laundry list of the hemp plant's usefulness, as if prohibition of this plant is the only stupid idea the government has come up with throughout prohibition history. I like these folks, and I too believe people should have access to any plant that nature provided us with. To outlaw a plant is nonsense.

    But recreational marijuana smokers and medical marijuana advocates are not the only victims of the drug war. Sometimes marijuana advocates try to legitimize their position, and improve the image of pot, by comparing pot to all those other "scary and harmful" drugs that "should" be outlawed. I don't think that is a good idea.

    One of the strongest allies that proponents of marijuana legalization have is the movement to dismantle the war on pain medication (opiates). Opium is also a plant -- just like marijuana. So is cocaine. The "dangerousness" of these drugs has been overrated and overstated by the same or similar economic interests that have demonized marijuana -- it is just that they got about a 25 year head start on the opioids and cocaine, and thus these lies have become accepted as "simple truths".

    Today, many people suffer terrible chronic pain today because of the offensive war launched by the DEA over the past few years to curtail the prescribing of pain medications (opioids) by doctors. The result has been a "chilling effect", which leaves most doctors overly reluctant to prescribe pain medication. Most would rather leave patients in moderate to severe pain than risk attention from law enforcement.

    Although I realize it is tempting to use other demonized drugs as "boogeymen" to make marijuana seem more harmless, that strategy ignores and alienates a vast community of political support for ending irrational drug policy. Marijuana users are not the only victims of this irrational public fraud called the Drug War.

    I am simply asking that people who favor marijuana legalization to consider avoiding arguments of the "leave pot smokers alone and go after the hard stuff" type. If you are not in pain yet, some day you will be. Some day you will need pain relief medication from opium products. The same forces that are denying your marijuana rights are denying others badly needed medications -- please don't help them do it. Recognize who your friends are.

    (-,-) "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain

    by phaktor on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:16:56 PM PDT

    •  I would say (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fiddlingnero, phaktor

      That my terms of concentrating on drugs that harm the general public would more likely include education, medical resources, and ways to combat it besides the war on drugs.

      Yes, we approach it the wrong way. Please dont presume that I want to lock up anyone who has an addiction. It should be treated as an illness.

      In the same tone, the war on drugs has only created a new industry, much the same as prohibition did..

      I do think we need to put more resources into deterring people from using destructive drugs.
      There is actual science that shows the destructiveness of the drugs you listed.

      And one other thing....dont always assume someone is a smoker just because they support legalization of marijuana.
      Sometimes, we do know what we are talking about just because we have researched..

      If you beleive you can tell me what to think, I beleive I can tell you where to go....

      by pale cold on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:25:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Point taken. (0+ / 0-)

        And one other thing....dont always assume someone is a smoker just because they support legalization of marijuana.

        My apologies.

        But I disagree on the "science" showing "destructiveness" of many demonized drugs, such as opioids or cocaine. As I said, those ideas have become so deeply entrenched that nobody looks at the profound assumptions that they are based on -- assumptions that were introduced in a media smear campaign in the early 1900's by the forerunners of our current drug warriors.

        First, the concept of "addiction" is not a scientific "fact". It is poorly defined, and it is not universally accepted in the scientific community  (see Stanton Peele). "Physical dependence" may be a scientific fact, but physical dependence is a short term problem, and many people who use pain medicines are physically dependent with the full knowledge of their doctors. Physical dependence can be managed -- it is not tremendously "destructive". It can be cured by titrating off (tapering off) the substance, or the symptoms can be endured for the rather limited time that they last (which, regardless of the horror stories promoted by the drug warriors and others, is usually something like a bad cold or at worst a case of the flu). Opioids are amazingly harmless substances. They do not cause any physical damage (the current high powered NSAIDS preferred for pain control, as well as acetominophen (tylenol), are serious poisons that can variously destroy livers, kidneys, circulatory systems, stomachs, and intestines).

        I am just saying that we should give serious scrutiny to anything the drug warriors have told us, even if we are not particularly interested in the substance they are demonizing. If they are willing to lie about pot, then what else have they been lying about?

        (-,-) "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain

        by phaktor on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:54:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As I said. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fiddlingnero, phaktor

          I am not just reading the propaganda from the government.

          We disagree. And the fact that you dispute my information and insist that addiction is a mythology...I know many people who have been there.

          Nothing further to say, very politely...Good evening. Really. this will never come to any constructive point.

          If you beleive you can tell me what to think, I beleive I can tell you where to go....

          by pale cold on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:59:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Opiate treatment (0+ / 0-)

          could be provided through cheap Chinese-made machines that dispense measured doses of substances like methadone.

          Another way would be to provide home delivery of thirty two-liter bottles labeled Day 1 ... Day 30 with tapered amounts of highly diluted methadone.

          Addiction treatment doesn't have to be expensive or too arduous to permit regular employment.

          After the course of methadone, the patient should be allowed to buy naltrexone.

  •  Drug Abuse as a National Problem?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FrankFrink, phaktor

    Canadians with lower incomes and those with less educational years are more likely to feel that drug abuse is a serious national problem, not a concern localized to specific areas. Those with higher incomes and more education are more likely to oppose the loss of the Liberal programs of pot decriminalization and harm-reduction.

    Now that I've had a proper smoke, I mean to question that assertion with the most coherent counter-argument I can summon: huh?

    Since when is drug abuse a serious national problem, even in low income or low education areas? We don't have anything like the Meth epidemic of the Midwest up here in Canada, and that argument seems like a Conservative red herring to me.

    It's also worth pointing out that drug abuse in Canada is treated by the government, who treat it like a disease. So Canada hardly can be said to have a history of vilifying drug addicts, but rather the way in which we deal with the problem has been far more effective than in the US.

    But all that said, I don't think that pot use really breaks down that easily along class lines. I know rich and poor and the penetration seems pretty constant across the income spectrum.

    •  exactly..... (4+ / 0-)

      Red herrings indeed...The conserves play to the worst fears.

      But there are definately areas that would compare to
      the meth epidemic in the US. Lower east side of Vancouver. Really bad, and the Neocon provincial government isnt doing a lot to help. They are getting ready for the Olympics......So they are simply trying to shift the issue.

      If you beleive you can tell me what to think, I beleive I can tell you where to go....

      by pale cold on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:38:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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