Canadians Unite Against Bill C-26 - Ask MPs "Why Prohibit Marijuana?"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2007 CONTACTS: Jacob Hunter, National Event Coordinator, [email protected] or 604-803-4085, Kirk Tousaw, 604-836-1420, [email protected]. Canadians Unite Against Bill C-26 - Ask MPs "Why Prohibit Marijuana?" An exciting new grass-roots political campaign is beginning to grow across Canada. In response to the Americanization of Canadian drug policy by the Conservative Party of Canada, ordinary Canadians are standing up to ask a simple question: Why? On November 20th, 2007 the Conservative government of Canada introduced Bill C-26, imposing mandatory minimum jail sentences for cannabis (marijuana) offences in an attempt to appear "tough" on crime. In reality, the government's own experts have said time and again - most recently in the Department of Justice analysis accompanying the CPC's other "get tough" crime bill - that these extreme measures simply don't work. This American-style legislation has been met with sweeping condemnation from experts and members of the public across Canada. At noon on December 17, 2007, ordinary Canadians will be gathering at their local Member of Parliament's office to ask their MPs to vote against Bill C-26 and to force them to justify any continued support for the failed and harmful policy of marijuana prohibition. "Mandatory minimums have already failed to curb drug use and sales in the US and simply ended up filling their jails to brimming with non-violent marijuana offenders" said Kirk Tousaw, a Vancouver criminal defence lawyer that has practiced on both sides of the border, "Worse, the evidence on marijuana is pretty unequivocal: prohibition is causing more harm than it prevents. So the question for Parliament is why? Why does marijuana prohibition have the support of the House of Commons?" Tousaw, whose UBC Master's in Law thesis examined Canadian cannabis policy, said: "Cannabis and cannabis policy has been studied extensively and thoroughly by our government and many others. The conclusions are unequivocal. Prohibition doesn't reduce use or supply. Prohibition supports organized crime by providing criminals with constant revenues. Prohibition creates dangerous black markets with no controls and causes people to grow marijuana in suburban basements instead of on farms and in greenhouses. And marijuana itself is far safer than virtually all of our legal drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, prescription and over-the-counter medications. The public understands this perfectly - 63% support legalization. Yet Parliament has ignored all of this. Why?" To find out the answer, on December 17, 2007 Canadians will meet at MP's offices across Canada. Starting at noon, these citizens will ask their representatives to meet and explain what the MP's marijuana position is. If the MP supports prohibition, he or she will be asked why. Event organizer Jacob Hunter put it this way, "We want them to tell us what their reasons are. Virtually all the reasons I ever hear given to support prohibition are at odds with the scientific and expert evidence, but I think many of the MPs may simply not understand the issue well enough. It seems that our government is more willing to listen to the Bush administration than to the evidence and the Canadian public. I want to know why."

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