January 31, 2018, Canada
With Canada moving towards marijuana legalization, some legislators want the country to decriminalize all the substances classified as illicit drugs. With the proposal of a blanket decriminalization, the topics of public health and concerned laws are being extensively discussed.
A group of legislators from the Liberal Party are demanding the federal government to decriminalize the consumption and possession of the drugs other than cannabis. They also have a plan to introduce a bill in the next year’s federal ballot.
The suggestion is getting a lot of traction all across the Canada and igniting constructive debates on the matter. The legislators who are in favor of this development want to change the perspective on substance abuse and addiction by framing it as a health concern instead of an unlawful act.
They are giving a recent example of Portugal where broad decriminalization has helped the government curb the widespread menace of substance abuse. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all types of drugs and diverted all the resources that got consumed in the persecution of such crimes to the public health sector of the country.
One of the pro-decriminalization lawmaker, Nathaniel Erskine, has articulated the argument of decriminalizing very well. He says that we have been using criminal justice system, without much success, to tackle the addiction for many years. Now, it’s time to address the issue with public healthcare system.
In contrast, Conservative Members of Parliament (MP) are wary of the suggestion and seeing it as a tool of encouragement for drug abusers. Rob Nicholson, a Conservative MP, is of the belief that with decriminalization, the message is being conveyed that it’s okay to use illicit drugs, which are responsible for destroying families and health of affected individuals. Moreover, it will also put the law and order of the country in jeopardy because these drugs are only available in black markets operated by criminal syndicates.
The proposal of decriminalizing has come at an interesting time when the country is all set for nationwide legalization of cannabis. With years of homework, the government is now sticking with the cut-off date of July 1st, 2018 to legalize all type of cannabis variants. Legislators have worked tirelessly to formulate a comprehensive legalization framework.
One of the milestones achieved by the Canadian parliament in the legalization process was the passing of The Cannabis Act in November, 2017. The bill C-45 was introduced by the first native Minister of Justice of the country, Jody Wilson. The bill got approved with a strong support of the legislators. 200 MPs voted in the favor of the bill while 82 opposed it. Even though it didn’t immediately make marijuana legal, but nevertheless it was a huge step towards legalization.
We all are well aware of the fact that decriminalizing all illegal drugs is a very radical idea and will need further debate in and outside of the parliament. As of now, it is still uncertain that whether the proposal will get enough support to get included in the next federal ballot.