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Canadian Cannabis Smokers Deserve An Apology

While it's nice that Trudeau says he wants to legalize cannabis, let's be clear that the reasons he's giving for legalization are all wrong.

While it may be politically wise to call for legalization mainly as a way of limiting access to minors while also raising some tax revenue, these are actually not at all the real reasons cannabis should be legalized.

Cannabis should be legalized because it is a wonderful plant, and because Canada's 100-year war on cannabis has had no redeeming features whatsoever.

Cannabis is beneficial and prohibition is wrong.

Let's remember that cannabis prohibition was born out of racism and ignorance. This century of war on cannabis and cannabis users was not some well-intentioned mistake. This persecution was not a noble effort to protect health or improve society. Cannabis prohibition began as a focused effort to harass, punish and deport racial minorities across North America.

Nothing good has come out of cannabis prohibition. There has been over 2 million arrests for cannabis in Canada, and not a single one was justified. No one has benefited from cannabis prohibition except perhaps for police and prison-builders.

The war on cannabis has been a senseless, violent, destructive oppression that has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of regular Canadians, killed hundreds more, and cost all of us a high price in lost civil liberties, lower neighbourhood safety, the clogging of our courts and the stigmatization of our friends and children.

And all of this for what? To stop people from growing and using a natural herb?

The idea that we now need "strict controls" over cannabis, or even "increased penalties" in any way is an insult to science and reason. There was never a good reason to ban cannabis in the first place, and there's no good reason to keep "strict controls" on it now.

Every Canadian should be able to grow cannabis just like any other plant. Current government rules around medical cannabis treat it like it's more dangerous than plutonium, with all kinds of tight security and restrictions. But why? In case a minor sneaks into a cannabis facility and smokes a joint? Let's be real.

Legalization should really mean that Canadian farmers can grow cannabis of any potency, by the thousands of hectares, just like tobacco or any other crop. Cannabis grown in a secure facility and sold for $10 a gram is not legalization, it's a continuation of prohibition and the profiteering that comes with it in a slightly different form.

Yes, we're happy to have an age limit for adults to be able to buy potent cannabis products in a store. And yes we want consumer protection rules in place to make sure that cannabis products bought in a store are as safe as possible, just like any other consumer item. But anything beyond those simple rules is merely a continuation of the ignorance and bigotry that formed the foundation of prohibition in the first place.

We want an apology.

The morally right action would be for prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau to give a formal apology to the two million Canadians who have been arrested, the hundreds of thousands who have been jailed, and the many families whose loved ones have been killed in this inhumane war.

The future prime minister must apologize on behalf of the government, to the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have suffered needlessly over the decades from ailments that could have been easily treated with cannabis, if not for the senseless laws against it.

The future prime minister should also formally recognize that the war on cannabis was a brutal, immoral policy, with no redeeming features whatsoever, and acknowledge that cannabis prohibition will be looked back upon by our children and grandchildren as a terrible, costly mistake.

Trudeau's focus for the coming legalization should not be on extensive new rules and restrictions. The focus should be on how to make right the wrongs of prohibition, to recognize that cannabis users deserve equal rights, and to start treating the cannabis plant like the beneficial herb that it is.

An apology is what Canada's cannabis culture wants and deserves. Without a formal recognition that the war on cannabis has been a century-long mistake, we will never be able to truly heal from this dark part of our history.

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