Decriminalization of Marijuana in Canada Essay

This essay has a total of 1368 words and 6 pages.

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Canada


Introduction
Marijuana is currently a hot topic of debate throughout Canada, and has been for the past
few years. Marijuana was first banned in 1923 under the Opium and Drug Act, but since 1997
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have controlled it. In 2000, over 30,000 Canadians
were charged with possession of marijuana. Currently, the marijuana laws are not enforced
equally across the country, which has prompted the interest in changing the laws or
possibly decriminalizing marijuana. Also, those convicted of marijuana related crimes
usually don't go to jail, but they do receive a criminal record.

There are currently two committees researching the possibility of legalizing marijuana in
Canada. One committee is the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs, and the other is
The House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. The Senate
committee reported in September of 2002, and stated that marijuana is not a gateway drug.
They also reported that marijuana should be treated more like tobacco or alcohol. The
House of Commons committee's report stated that although marijuana is unhealthy, the
punishments for having even a small amount of marijuana are disproportionably harsh. The
House is promoting the decriminalization of marijuana to make it legal to possess an
amount of marijuana not exceeding 30 grams, which is about one ounce. These two committees
seem to come to the same conclusion that marijuana is placed in the same class as more
"hard-core" drugs such as heroin and cocaine, when it should not be, as they view
marijuana as a safer drug. As stated previously, the Senate states that marijuana is not a
gateway drug. A gateway drug is the term used to identify drugs that are not narcotics,
but their use will lead the user down the path to harder drugs like heroin.

Support for the Decriminalization of Marijuana
There is actually a political party in Canada called the Marijuana Party of Canada, and it
has many supporters. These supporters believe that the only route to take is full
decriminalization of marijuana, which is not likely to happen. One argument of these
supporters is that the current penalties for marijuana possession are too harsh.
Realistically, there is not chance that marijuana will ever be completely decriminalized
in Canada, as the effects from this would be damaging to Canada's relationship to the
United States. President George W. Bush has already stated that full decriminalization of
marijuana would lead to longer and more thorough border searches, due to the possibility
of increased drug trafficking across the border. This is why the Canadian government is
leaning more toward decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana rather than legalizing it.
The theory behind the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana
for personal use should be tied to a national drug strategy that promotes awareness and
prevention, and provides for comprehensive treatment. The government would sponsor
programs to educate youths about the dangers of marijuana, and also support programs to
aide citizens who have addictions to marijuana.

Opposition to the Decriminalization of Marijuana
There is also strong support on the other side, opposing the decriminalization of
marijuana. Their argument is that by legalizing, or even decriminalizing small amounts or
marijuana will lead to an increase of the use of other drugs. They also contradict the
view of those who support the decriminalization of marijuana by stating the marijuana is
indeed a gateway drug that will lead users to start using narcotics like heroin and
cocaine. They believe that people who start off using marijuana and get addicted will
start searching for new ways to get high, and basically start down the path of drug use to
harder, more addicting, and more life threatening drugs.

Another point that the opposition makes is the message that decriminalizing marijuana
would send to young people. Kids in schools would be heavily influence by older children
who are already using marijuana, and it would spread throughout the schools. All your life
you are being taught that drugs are bad, and now all of a sudden, they are legal? This
would increase drug use not only of marijuana, but also of hardcore drugs. If marijuana is
legal, than these other drugs can't be too bad, right? That is the question that the
younger generation will be thinking to themselves.

The government also says that the money saved by not running anti-marijuana ads and
programs, they can use the money to fund support groups, etc. That must be one of the most
preposterous ideas that anyone has ever had. Instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle for
youngsters, scratch the anti-drug ads, and then use that money to help them once they
become addicted? If the government is going to decriminalize marijuana, they might as well
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