How the Green Party of Canada Almost got Legalization Right
Bill C-45 has been the most talked about legislation of 2017. As Canadians prepare for the end of prohibition, politicians scramble to create the structure needed. After ridiculous plant height regulations that were repealed, followed by announcements of edibles, it seems like the Liberal’s are getting it figured out. While cannabis pardons going unaddressed, it’s hard to say what else will be done with with past cannabis convictions. There are a few parliamentary paragons that deserve to be recognized for their voice within cannabis. Leader of the Green Party of Canada Elizabeth May proved to be one of these paragons.
May was one of the few MPs to submit amendments to Bill C-45, demonstrating a true desire to put people first.
“We must ensure that Bill C-45 will not further stigmatize vulnerable populations and that those with criminal records due to cannabis prohibition are pardoned. Cannabis must be fully legalized, and the tax rate must keep costs in line with current dispensary sales if the government wants to get rid of the illicit drug market.” - Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
We applaud May's effort to reduce the ridiculous amount spent on cannabis enforcement and heartache of those previously convicted. She submitted a total of 18 amendments to Bill C-45, which went through clause-by-clause consideration at the Standing Committee on Health. What makes these amendments unique is the clear understanding of constituents, unlike so many of the proposals that came from the Liberal government.
The most noticeable amendments were not new ones, but ones which aimed to remove additional criminalization. One major amendment was aimed to remove aspects of the bill that criminalized youth. This effort to reduce the stigma attached with cannabis consumption and protect youth is one that should not be overlooked. It is well known that involvement in the justice system as a youth is associated with repeat offending. By not labelling youth consumers as criminals in the first place, they are less likely to offend in the future.
Decriminalizing youth cannabis youth will also save enforcement costs, and be used to educate at risk youth. This kind of social policy surrounding cannabis is exactly what the community was looking for upon legalization. Along with protecting youth, May also proposed to reduce overly high criminal sanctions and remove provisions that would allow the government to reject anyone with a criminal record from obtaining a permit to grow. Every provision was essentially addressing the hypocrisy of prohibition in the first place.
The tragic part about all these amendments? Not a single one was adopted.