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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 203429 Find in a Library
Title: Cannabis Law Reform in Canada: Is the "Saga of Promise, Hesitation and Retreat" Coming to an End?
Journal: Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice  Volume:45  Issue:3  Dated:July 2003  Pages:265-397
Author(s): Benedikt Fischer; Kari Ala-Leppilampi; Eric Single; Amanda Robins
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 33
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: This article discusses the socio-historical context of the criminalization of cannabis use in Canada.
Abstract: The Canadian Federal Government has proposed legislation that will decriminalize the simple possession of cannabis by the summer of 2003. The numerous (unsuccessful) legal and political attempts at cannabis-control reform in the past 30 years, called “the saga of promise, hesitation, and retreat” are discussed. The beginnings of cannabis criminalization in 1923 were described as a sudden political occurrence, without an apparent rationale, creating criminal status for a drug that would remain virtually unknown and irrelevant for almost three decades. The sudden upsurge in cannabis use and enforcement in the late 1960's led to social controversy and repeated calls for cannabis-control reform. But no substantive revisions to the drug law ever materialized. Despite continuous public support for decriminalization, a window of opportunity for drug policy reform in the 1990's again resulted only in the reinforcement of cannabis-use criminalization. While social pressure for cannabis law and policy reform is not new, prohibition is under unprecedented pressure from another source: a series of legal decisions has given fuel and legitimacy to the claim that the current cannabis law may violate constitutional rights -- including those related to medicinal marijuana use. The options for cannabis law and policy reform include retaining cannabis possession under the control of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Acts, yet eliminating the imprisonment option and reducing the maximum fine. Another option is to make cannabis possession an offense under a non-criminal law. A final possibility involves the establishment of diversion mechanisms to subject cannabis-use offenders to education or treatment measures rather than legal punishment and thus activate measures of medical or social intervention. 1 note, 108 references
Main Term(s): Foreign laws; Marijuana
Index Term(s): Canada; Controlled Substances; Decriminalization; Drug legalization; Laws and Statutes; Medical uses of marijuana
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