Newsbrief: Canada's National Post Says Legalize It 9/10/04

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Canada's National Post, whose position as Canada's national newspaper of record is challenged only by the Toronto Globe & Mail, called Tuesday in an editorial for the legalization of marijuana. The newspaper cited two contemporary cases and the contradictory way in which they are being handled as providing the latest compelling reason to not fool around with the halfway measure of decriminalization, which the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin is prepared to move on this year.

The Post noted the case of Vancouver's Da Kine Café, which has been selling marijuana in an Amsterdam-style coffee house setting for four months. Café owner Carol Gwilt hoped to advance the cause by forcing a crackdown on her open pot sales, but it didn't happen. So she turned to the media to expose what she was up to in what the Post referred to as "a slightly ridiculous play for attention."

Even with the publicity, Vancouver police and political figures had not gotten around to bothering her by the time the Post wrote its editorial. Gwilt finally got her wish, though, on Thursday evening. According to Canada's CTV, more than 30 police cars surrounded the café and arrested six people as an angry neighborhood crowd jeered and smoked joints defiantly. The large number of police was there to protect the police, Vancouver
Police spokeswoman Sarah Bloor told CTV.

Still, it took two weeks of intense media scrutiny to force Vancouver's police to finally make arrests at Da Kine. Contrast that reluctance to enforce marijuana laws with the harsh 90-day sentence meted out to marijuana seed entrepreneur and leading Canadian pot activist, who currently sits in the Saskatoon Jail. Vindictive authorities there charged him with drug trafficking after he shared a joint with bystanders at the end of a pro-pot rally there. The Post did, and it didn't like what it found.

"Even on its own, the indifference to the activities of the Da Kine Café would speak to the absurdity of a criminal law that few people -- including, it seems, some police forces -- have any interest in enforcing," noted the Post. "But it is all the more telling when contrasted with the case of Marc Emery, the marijuana activist recently sentenced in Saskatchewan to three months in prison on a trafficking conviction for passing a joint at a rally. When our drug laws are enforced so arbitrarily that one individual is imprisoned for trafficking when he did nothing of the sort, even as another feels compelled to contact the media in order to draw attention to the fact that her establishment has sold the same drug over the counter for months without any consequences, the need for reform is obvious."

Decriminalization would not go far enough, said the Post. "The only sensible course of action is to end the pointless prohibition of a substance that is neither more dangerous nor more addictive than alcohol or tobacco, and one that has reportedly been smoked by more than 10 million Canadians at some point in their lives," the editorial concluded. "It's time to make official what Vancouver's authorities have evidently already accepted, and legalize marijuana."

The editorial, "Pointless Prohibition," is available online to National Post subscribers only at DrugSense's Media Awareness Project has an archived copy posted at online.

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Issue #353, 9/10/04 They're Back! Two DEA Raids on California Medical Marijuana Operations in Two Weeks | Push for Medical Marijuana Legislation Underway in New Jersey | CRCM Makes Final Court Bid to Get Marijuana Regulation Initiative on Nevada Ballot | DRCNet Book Review: "My Cocaine Museum," by Michael Taussig (2004, University of Chicago Press, 360 pp., $22.50 HB) | Action Alert: Judiciary Committee Taking Up HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Pittsburgh Gives Preliminary Okay to Continuing Needle Exchange Program | Newsbrief: German Drug Deaths Down, Government Cites Harm Reduction Policies | Newsbrief: Initiative Fails to Make Ballot in Arkansas, Another Gets Kicked Off Ballot in Tallahassee | Newsbrief: MPP Sues Minneapolis over Medical Marijuana Ballot Access | Newsbrief: Denver Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Canada's National Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: US and Philippines in Joint "Narcoterrorism" Exercises | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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