A Canadian's perspective on domestic and international issues. Independent coverage of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections and anything of interest in Canada.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pot Decrim in Canada

What was the cost of last summer’s pot busts in Kaslo?.
How much did it cost the police to conduct these investigations and raids versus how much the defendants paid once they were convicted, if they were convicted?
When was the last time police went out to bust up a liquor still?
Point being, if pot were decriminalized and sold in a similar manner to alcohol, would we need to waste police resources, time and money, on busting pot growers?
If pot were decriminalized, would these growers even be interested, or willing, to continue operating illegally?
In Holland, pot is decriminalized and sold in licensed “coffee shops”, growers are licensed, and taxes are paid on the businesses and income from the activity. ” Possession of small quantities is permitted.
The result, according to the Dutch government, is many millions added to the tax base, a freeing up of police resources to deal with harder drugs, less court resources taken up prosecuting minor pot charges, and very few illegal grow ops (its easier to buy a license and do it legally).
Socially, there is less pot in the streets (its more comfy to go sit in a coffee shop) and a major reduction in the number of young people taking up the habit (the same thing happened when alcohol prohibition ended).
At a time when government revenues are tumbling, it seems odd a government claiming “fiscal responsibility” would continue to prosecute an activity that costs more than it yields. It also seems odd, while most reports indicate decriminalization, licensing and regulation of pot would create a major windfall for government coffers, the feds stringently hold onto their ideologically driven opposition. Franky, its fiscally irresponsible not to reconsider.
Another factor is the ongoing negative perception of the RCMP. They give lip service to the concept of “community policing” but seem more interested in getting neighbours to tattle-tale on each other. Community policing should be more about serving and reacting to the concerns of the community where the police are situated. Were the busts in Kaslo this summer conducted as a result of local pressure, or were the police operating under ideologically-based directions from Ottawa?
Most studies and reports indicate the “war on pot” is not working. Prohibition is resulting in gang violence (just as it did with alcohol), making criminals rich, and costing taxpayers untold millions.
Obviously, it is time we tried a new tact, especially when we need means of boosting the tax base! Most reports indicate decriminalization would do just that!
It is also time to face the fact that pot is not going away, just as we once acknowledged about booze.
How long will it be before common sense supplants unsuccessful ideological positions?
When will we finally learn from the mistakes of the past? When will our governments actually begin to demonstrate the fiscal responsibility they give so much credence to?
Finally, we can always give it a try and see if it works. The nice thing about laws is, we can always change them if they don’t work out!

Labels: , , ,

Canada 09 vs Germany 39

I grew up listening to stories about the "Great Wars." In school we learned about the politics behind those wars.
We were told Hitler was trying to conquer the world, end democracy, and institute an international dictatorship. Repeatedly it was explained how he went from being a fringe player, seldom taken seriously, to having a minority, to overruling the majority in his own parliament, to unleashing a period of unprecedented terror on the world.
Step by step his actions were explained, with the intent of making sure, we would never forget, and would not allow such a tragedy to occur again.
Hitler began with a small group of radicals. They complained German society was too "liberal", crime was out of control, outsiders were destroying society and hording resources, that Germany needed to build a strong army to reclaim its greatness.
Unfortunately, the German people did not take Hitler seriously. He seemed an odd man, surrounded by fringe characters. His politics were not widely shared. Few believed he would ever get elected, let alone become Chancellor. His party seemed to be little more than a group of disaffected losers who liked to complain about everything, and wanted to take the country backward, not forward.
His party's tactics of name calling, of accusing the opposition of being in league in with Germany's enemies, of claiming other parties were suffering from moral decay, only seemed to reaffirm he was a marginal character of no real consequence.
Even after being elected Chancellor, with a slim minority, few took him seriously. His claim that crime was out of control seemed ridiculous because most Germans lived relatively peaceful lives. Yes, there were serious economic problems, but no one really believed it was caused by immigrants. People were confident, his party was in the minority and there were plenty of checks and balances in the German political system.
When he began to chip away at the judiciary, appointing like minded people to the German courts, few challenged him. When he allowed the police to do their business without oversight, few complained. When he mocked his opposition, calling them names, accusing them of being traitors, few challenged his assertions. Most people found the politics of the time so negative, they simply ignored it. Even when Hitler began to outrightly overrule the elected majority, people continued to call him “inconsequential”.
The German people, by and large, viewed the ultra-nationalist, law and order, militaristic Nazi platform as a minority view, that would go away if ignored. Hitler represented the few and in time would be voted out.
We all know what happened next!
I’m grateful to be Canadian. The accident of my birth saved me from war, starvation, most disease, and dictatorship. I’ve been free to speak my mind, move about unfettered, and had a say in how I’m governed.
However, I do remember the lessons I was taught by those who experienced fascim, oppression and deprivation! Because of those lessons, I remain keenly aware of the warning signs.
When a people become complacent, ignoring the signs, more concerned about their individual wealth than the well being of the many, when they allow their democratic institutions to be chipped away, when they ignore the rantings, name calling and unfounded accusations being tossed around, they are ripe for dictatorship!
There is an old adage: “All it takes for evil to thrive in the world is for one good man to do nothing.” It seems to me, in Canada today, there are a lot of good people choosing to do just that!
That said, there is only one thing I want for Christmas. I want my fellow Canadians, all of them, to stand up for the most precious gift we have in our possession, our democracy!

Labels: , ,