Loading articles...

Activist shares concerns as Senate votes on marijuana bill

Last Updated Mar 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm EDT

(Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press)

With all eyes on the Senate for the marijuana vote Thursday, one of Canada’s most vocal activists is sharing her thoughts on the legislation.

The owner of ‘Cannabis Culture’ magazine has mixed emotions about the Cannabis Act – Bill C-45.

Jodie Emery says details in this legislation will actually introduce more, and harsher penalties than the current law.

“It goes from 8 marijuana offences today, to 45 offences under Bill C-45. It also has 14-year maximums available, which equates it with pornography or terrorism – so the Bill has a lot of bad stuff in it .. but if Canada does not pass legalization this summer, that will be disappointing and distressing news for people around the world, specifically those on the business side of things that have a lot of money invested in this thing being passed.”

Emery has a few other issues with the Feds’ plan for legalization.

She says the government should be more focused on legalizing the existing industry that’s already worth billions in Canada, and stop ‘wasting’ millions of dollars on law enforcement for marijuana crimes.

“The Cannabis Act continues to criminalize many Canadians, proposes harsher punishments on the existing industry, and increases spending on marijuana law enforcement. Which is very strange, given that you don’t need to enforce the law against something that’s not against the law .. so really the details aren’t so great.”

Emery is pleased the Bill passed its second reading Thursday – but notes when the Conservatives say they don’t support it, she agrees with them in some ways.

“But we come at it from completely opposite approaches. We need to continue to push for amnesty for all the non-violent peaceful victims of marijuana laws. It’s very strange to see that the Liberal government is almost becoming the Conservatives, in terms of what they’re promoting. The Liberals seem to have adopted Conservatives’ prior concerns and put them into their legislation, and have become their opposition. So I think we’re lacking courage in the government, and there’s a lot of political cowardice in the Liberals.”

The Trudeau government announced it will hand out $274-million to Canadian law enforcement as marijuana becomes legal later this year.

Emery calls it ‘absolute reefer madness redefined’.

“How can the government possibly maintain the existing cannabis enforcement budget – which is nearly a billion – and then promise another quarter billion? How can it cost more money to enforce the law against something that’s legal? Cannabis criminalization has been a cash cow for cops – and stats show that cannabis and drug-crimes make up the majority of police-work. So that’s why they’re terrified to lose this aspect, and why you’re seeing new tougher penalties introduced.”

Emery says if this is what ‘legalization’ will look like in Canada – the government is doing it wrong.

“Restricting and limiting access IS prohibition – that’s what the Liberals are promising with this legislation, that’s what the police want to see – so there’s still lots of work to be done.”

She adds she’ll continue to campaign for “true” legalization – where Canadians will be free from criminal records, persecution, and stigma related to marijuana-use.

Senators voted 44-29 in favour of Bill C-45 late Thursday, despite word it may be axed.

You can listen to the full interview with Jodie Emery below.