Sources Cited on Easybib: http://easybib.com/key/270579

The Project

Creating a blog instead of writing a paper, or creating a poster has been interesting. I found that because we were given a week for research before starting any writing,I got to know my topic in detail and had time to develop my position on the issue of marijuana prohibition. Although this is my first blog, I have followed others in the past, and am familiar with the layout and concept of blogging. I found it difficult to keep entries short because there is a lot of interesting details concerning marijuana legalisation, but otherwise came across no challenges during this project.

In terms of viewing other blogs linked to this project, I much prefer this to in class presentations. Because I have access to all the class blogs at all times, it was much easier to stay focused and read the entries that interested me when I wanted to, rather than back to back. I also found leaving comments more efficient than in class, as not everybody gets a chance to speak in classroom settings.

Legalising Marijuana

I chose this topic because an a Vancouverite I have witnessed alot of activism on this topic. I thought it would be interesting to do a topic that is widely relatable, and effects everyone, whether in reference to the violence resulting from prohibition, the accessibility of marijuana as a therapeutic drug, or the arrests and enforcement surrounding this drug.

 I know people eligible for medical marijuana, and understand that in certain situations anything that can ease the pain, or nausea, or other ailments is one of the greatest reliefs. I was also familiar with Marc Emery and Tommy Chong prior to this project. I have now learned alot more about these two activists, but at the time I was already confused as to how one qualifies for extradition, the events leading up to both arrests, and the circumstances in which those arrests were justified.

I was also curious as to whether there was anything I could do to discourage the apparently negative outcomes of prohibition. And there is. I sent my letters on the arrest of Marc Emery today: One to Mr Vic Toews, the Canadian Minister of Public Safety; one to the US Department of Justice; and one to Peter Julian, a MP. I also sent a painting and letter to Mark Emery explaining my project and wishing him the best of luck in hopefully being transferred back to Canada to serve his sentence at home.

I have learned alot researching this project, but what stands out the most to me is that marijuana prohibition was started with the assumption that cannabis is dangerous, and at the time the technology needed to support or oppose such a statement was not available. The issue is that the prohibition has not yet been adapted to today's knowledge of marijuana. But slowly, people seem to be reconsidering what is consistently drilled into them: "Drugs are bad."


How I Feel

Clearly I am for the legalisation of marijuana. The prohibition and human rights seem to run along two parallels, never crossing eachother's paths. It has invited a new excuse for violence, and blurred the consequences of all things marijuana related.

Google Images: Inconsistency;
"How could we be sending Mark Emery to prison for life in the United States, if even our own police aren't finding it worth their while to bust people smoking [marijuana] right in front of them?" (The Union: The Business Behind Getting High)

This quote illustrates my feelings exactly. If one is to create a prohibition, it must clearly be forbidden. This prohibition has governed great inconsistency, resulting in quite justified confusion. There is also the situation in which privately owned prisons profit off prisoners, increasing the demand for prisoners, which, in turn, makes marijuana consumers, dealers, and producers easy targets. Is this not an example of corruption? I cannot believe the private prison industry is legal.

Google Images: Poison
I am also bothered because of the dedication being put forward to promote an entirely natural medication, proven to have therapeutic properties in many situations, as negative. As if choking back synthetic substitutes or man-made medications is the healthy alternative. Every year prescription medicines kill more than 100 000 people yet they are hesitant to sell marijuana because of the side effects (a high). (The Union) Modern medicine is highly experimental, dangerous, toxic, and kills. It is fantastic that certain areas such as Canada and California have legalised the use of medical marijuana for patients with the appropriate illness', but why, if cannabis is as damaging as claimed, is it only legally securable to the ill population of these communities? And if not, why is there a perception that healthy people would be affected differently by the drug in question?



The Solutions

The current marijuana prohibition is failing. There are two views on how to change this: legalise marijuana, for once and for all; or create stricter laws and consequences for those involved with this drug. 44% of the US public support growing marijuana for legal use. ("A Federal Misstep with Medical Marijuana") This is a much lower number than Canadians who support the same cause.

Google images: map with Canadian American;
Although throughout this blog I have spoken to Canada and the United States almost interchangeably, regarding "solutions" these two countries seem to have opposing positions.

"Drug policies [in America] are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies." The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group of former presidents and prime ministers, a former secretary general of the UN, human rights leaders, and business and governmental leaders, recommended that the US bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The solutions suggested were to substitute treatment for imprisonment when regarding users that do not harm others, and focusing on the violent crime organisations which are essentially creating the dangers in the drug trade. (Jimmy Carter, "Call Off The Global Drug War")

In Minnesota, The Medical Marijuana Bill was amended to only apply to the terminally ill. ("A Federal Misstep with Medical Marijuana")

These efforts may temporarily solve issues related to the illegal drug trade, but long term legal regulation seems to be the only responsible solution.

Canadians spend $3-500 000 000 a year on law enforcement and the justice system to enforce marijuana laws. (The Union: The Business Behind Getting High)

Google Images: Legalise marijuana
 rally; www.wral.com
Thus, Canadians have there own ideal solution. From Stop The Violence, to Cannabis Day, to The Green Party, much of the population sees the benefits of legalisation. It would dramatically reduce violence; regulate use, decreasing accessibility to kids and teenagers; and embrace an ever growing culture in North America. After all, throughout this ordeal it seems that those against the legalisation of marijuana have relied on stereotypes, and repercussions to make this drug bad, not factual evidence.


Google Images: Legalise marijuana
 rally; www.streetroots.wordpress.com.
If you are a concerned individual when it comes to marijuana legalisation take action! There are many organisations with the sole purpose of fighting the injustices this law has created (see the link panel above). If you are bothered by the unfair treatment of activists such as Marc Emery, support him by writing letters to the people in charge, and publicising what he has faced. If you are of legal age, you also have the influence of your vote. There are many solutions to the issue of marijuana legalisation, the above is just a sample.

"The more marijuana growers and drug dealers went to jail, the more the violence in the streets increases as young people and others fight over the vacuum created by the arrest of the dealer, producer, or consumer of illegal substances." (Marc Emery, bcmarijuanaparty.com)


Who's Involved?

There are many parties involved in the legalisation of marijuana. There is the DEA and law enforcement; marijuana dealers, growers, and buyers; and drug-related gangs, and gang-related victims. But the most influential players in this game of law defying activities are the activists; the Canadian and American citizens; and the business this sector has created, and competes with.

Marc Emery
Marc is a Canadian citizen, and a very prominent man in Canadian politics. Currently one of the most recognised marijuana activists in the country, he is the publisher of "Cannabis Culture Magazine," and "Pot-TV"; the leader of the BC Marijuana Party; the owner of Cannabis Culture Headquarters; a world famous marijuana seed retailer ("Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seeds"); and the biggest financial supporter of the marijuana movement to date. Emery's seed retail resulted in his arrest.

Selling marijuana seeds may sound like an illegal activity, but it is not. It is so legal in fact, that doctors directed medical marijuana patients to his website to order their medication. The transaction that caused so much trouble took place when Marc Emery's cannabis seeds were ordered from the United States. The US government was outraged, and although under normal circumstances the person ordering the illegal substance would face the charges, where marijuana is concerned the laws become a little skewed. Emery was arrested in 2005 by American agents in Canada, and extradited to the US.

Statement from DEA; freemarc.ca;
 Enlarged version
Why did the Canadian government allow this and let the US government override them in such a way? This question stumps me.
I am confident that if the Canadian government had any issues with Marc Emery, they could have, and would have dealt with it themselves. Yet they didn't, and his pass time was no secret. Emery operated his business in full transparency and honesty; he went as far as to send his "Cannabis Culture Magazine" COMPLETE WITH THE MARIJUANA SEED CATALOGUE, to each member of parliament in Canada for years; as well as declaring income from his seed sales on his income tax.

Marc Emery paid over $580 000 to the federal and provincial governments between 1999 and 2005 (freemarc.ca)

Because of the monstrous injustice Emery is facing, many people wish to enable a "Treaty Transfer" and bring him home.

"The FREE MARC campaign wants the Canadian government to repatriate Marc Emery from the US federal prison system so he can serve his sentence in his home country of Canada. Marc Emery is a political prisoner, imprisoned for activism and funding the marijuana movement through marijuana seed sales." (freemarc.ca) Free Marc is a great campaign with a strong cause. I encourage you all to check out the website, http://freemarc.ca/ and get involved! It has all the information you need to contact government officials such as the Canadian Minister of Public Safety, the US Department of Justice, and Marc himself, and many other ideas. You should write for the rights of Marc Emery! I know I will!

Tommy Chong

Do you know who Tommy Chong is? If not, your parents probably do. Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin, often know as Cheech and Chong, were leaders in the counterculture movement of the 1970's. Exaggerating the "stupid stoner" stereotype, they were comedians who later came out with a series of movies, written by none other than Tommy Chong himself.

"I'm [in jail] because I'm a doper comedian and I made a stupid joke about bongs being the only weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration had found, and next thing I know I'm looking at nine months." (Tommy Chong, A/K/A Tommy Chong) What Chong is referring to is his arrest. He was arrested for "conspiring to sell paraphernalia" of a company in which he was not involved. Nice Dream Enterprises is run by Paris Chong (son of Tommy), and although this may seem like a close connection, Paris openly admits that he never indulged in his fathers ideas, as they were unrealistic, other than printing the famous Chongs' face on the bongs, of course. And for this, the US government deemed it necessary to put a budget aside for the capture of Tommy Chong. The top American criminal targets of 2003 were Osama Bin Laden, with a budget of $25 million; his two sons, budgeted $15 million each; and Tommy Chong, with a whopping $12 million of criminal activity to his name. (The Union: The Business Behind Getting High)

 They found this unobtainable man at his house. Complete with a swat team armed with automatic weapons, helicopters, dogs, DEA, the LA police and numerous news crews, the take down of this dangerous stoner went remarkably well. When ask if he was in possession of marijuana he responded: "Of course, I'm Tommy Chong." (A/K/A Tommy Chong)
Google images: Tommy Chong; A/K/A Tommy Chong
  Many were baffled by this gross waste in tax payer's dollars, and the lack of evidence to support this man's conviction. "I'm highly for it. I think as long as [the US] is on code orange, and attacks coming from not only Iraq, but North Korea are immanent, the best thing to do is bust Tommy Chong. I mean they have literally busted Cheech and Chong." (Bill Maher, CNN, A/K/A Tommy Chong)

Chong served his sentence October 8, 2003 to July 7, 2004.


"If you took the entire using population of all the illegal drugs combined, and you eliminated cannabis from that equation, there wouldn't be a big enough drug problem in either [Canada] or the United States to justify the massive expenditures that go towards fighting the war."

Enforcing marijuana prohibition is extremely expensive, but in the US it also has also assisted in creating a whole new business interest. In a 20 year period the US prison population has quadrupled, and private prisons are promoted as "one of the best investments you can make." I can't help but feel profiting off prisoners is bad, since this encourages arrests, and cannabis violators make easy targets. The US incarcerates at a rate of 726 people per 100 000 person population, while other countries act at a lesser rate. Japan incarcerates at a rate of 38 people per 100 000 person population. That is nearly a 700 prisoner difference. Currently, there are nearly 45 000 prisoners in state and federal prisons for marijuana violations in the US (excluding people in local and county jails).

88% of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession. (FBI - Uniform crime report, The Union)


"Marijuana in it's natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." (Frances Young, DEA judge) When looking at the conflict of nature versus man, nature often wins. It is difficult to compete a man-made, chemically based product against a natural one that already has the strength to solve the problem in question. Marijuana is a threat.

Google images: Marinol; glenwoodsmith.com
Proven to benefit people suffering from glaucoma, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, MS, nausea, depression, anxiety, hepatitis C, cancer, chemotherapy and AIDS, marijuana is like a super drug. So why bother with man-made replacements that include synthetic compounds like Marinol and Stavex? Natural remedies cannot be patented, making it impossible for the pharmaceutical industries to profit from it. Instead they use synthetic THC (delta-9 tetra hydro cannabinol), mix in some other stuff, argue that the medication offers no high, and put it on the shelves with their wallets ready for profit. (nida.nih.gov)

Marinol claims it is "a more viable medicine [than marijuana] because there is no high." The side effects are: dizziness, exaggerated happiness, and drowsiness. Are those not the signs of a high?

This also affects doctors whether they are aware, or not. Doctors are trained against prescribing marijuana from early on as they are continuously being seduced by drug companies until they find themselves with a strong bias towards the "product of choice."

 So how could have medicinal marijuana become legal if so many are against it? There are exceptions to every rule. Somewhere people who were not blinded by capitalism, and bought out by pharmaceuticals stood up and made a difference. One of these people was Dennis Peron: http://pdr.autono.net/DennisPeron.html

Google images: Evolution; googlyfoogly.com
People believe what they are told. Especially if the word "study" or "scientific" is involved. Yet most of what is believed to be true regarding marijuana is false. Two of the largest myths are "marijuana kills braincells" and "marijuana kills." Both of these statements are based on the Heath/Tulan study. This study claims that after smoking 30 joints a day, for 60 days, the monkeys who were being used for the study died. What they chose not to share is that instead of administering 30 joints a day for one year, as the study suggests, Dr Heath pumped 63 Colombian strength joints through a gas mask for five minutes over three months. The monkeys died of suffocation, and no studies since show any signs of braincell damage or death.

"You have to smoke something around 15 thousand joints in 20 minutes to get a toxic amount of THC. I challenge anybody to do that." (Dr Paul Hornby, PhD, The Union)

#1 killer in Canada: Tobacco cigarettes (beat out AIDS, heroin, crack, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, fire and murder combined)

#2 killer in Canada: Alcohol (alcohol leads to 55 000 deaths a year)

"There are no deaths from cannabis use." (Dr Lester Grinspoon, MD, The Union)

The Gateway Theory: "There is no inherent psychopharmaceutical logical property of the drug which pushes one towards another drug."

104 marijuana users = 1 cocaine user = less than one heroin user

Addiction: It is true that more youth are in addiction clinics for marijuana than any other substance. If offered the choice between prison or treatment, I'd opt for the treatment. 97% of marijuana users in treatment centres have been directed to by a judge or guardian.

"The use of criminal law for the basis of public health is a wholly bad idea." (Neil Boyd, The Union)

Google images: Joints; nationalfamilies.org

(all statistics and quotation from The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, unless otherwise cited)


The Causes

Google images: neuroskeptic.blogspot.com
"Marijuana prohibition is unjust and illegitimate, and must be repealed. The persecution of the cannabis community has had terrible consequences. We have criminalised millions of our fellow Canadians merely because they prefer cannabis to coffee, or wine. Along the way we've spent millions of taxpayer dollars trying to stomp out drugs, succeeding only in creating a black-market economy." (bcmarijuanaparty.com/platform)


Prohibition is an issue because it seems to automatically criminalise everything related to the prohibited from growing and distributing, to indulging and publicising. When something is under prohibition, the government has banned it, so it is not regulated or taxed. The goal of prohibition is to reduce the amount of drugs available, and reduce demand, yet it has done the opposite.

Since marijuana has been criminalised all activities surrounding it have been pushed into the black market. Without regulation, this makes cannabis and other, more dangerous drugs, easier to obtain. In Canada there has been a 100 000% increase in marijuana users since 1937. This means in 2007 there was more  than 50 000 000 people illegally enjoying this substance. And with such high demand, growing is an increasingly popular and lucrative job. By the year 2000, British Colombia was home to 17 000 grow-ops.

As seen through history, prohibition encourages criminal activity. Prohibition strengthens crime simply because you have to be a criminal to identify with it.

Based on informantion from bcmarijuanaparty.com

Recently Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, as well as four former mayors stepped forward calling for marijuana legalisation and regulation in BC in order to reduce gang violence. This shows it is not just "potheads" pushing for legalisation, but also people of authority, as it would be beneficial in numerous scenarios.Through an educational campaign, Stop The Violence BC, they hope to improve community safety by broadening the public understanding between cannabis prohibition and gang violence. "Stop The Violence BC is calling for cannabis to be governed by a strict regulatory framework aimed at limiting use while also starving organised crime of the profits they currently reap as a result of prohibition." (stoptheviolencebc.org) In 2009, British Colombia had 43 gang-related deaths and 276 drive-by shootings, putting public safety at great risk.

BC's stance on marijuana prohibition: The Angus Reid Poll

87% attribute gang violence to drug trafficking
81% are concerned about increasing gang violence
75% think possession should not lead to a criminal record
69% find arresting marijuana producers and sellers ineffective
12% support the current marijuana laws


"The line between legal and illegal regarding marijuana is fading year by year." ("A Federal Misstep with Medical Marijuana?") Medical marijuana is legal in 13 states and Canada, yet there is barely criteria to define who requires it; it is illegal in all other instances, yet laws are not enforced at public events such as Cannabis Day; activists are being arrested who have not broken the law; and in the US, state and federal laws contradict themselves.

FUN FACT: "If a young person if caught with so much as one marijuana cigarette [in the US], they cannot get a loan from the government to go to college. If they've been convicted of murdering somebody, or raping someone, no problem. They can go right down and they'll give them the loan."

Arresting activists for nothing other than activism is illegal. As stated in Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." Mark Emmery and Tommy Chong, although convicted for different "official" reasons, are victims of this injustice.

Although medicinal marijuana is legal in 13 states, the laws concerning it are still a source of issues. According to The Tenth Amendment, "Powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." This means that even if the state law declares marijuana legal, the federal government and DEA can still treat it as illegal. In these situations, state police do not have the authority to stop the interference.