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Cannabis Legalization Argumentative Paper

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Cannabis Legalization Argumentative Paper

Given that Bill C-45 has now become law, individuals 18 and over can now legally purchase, possess, and consume marijuana and cannabis products. Although certain restrictions are in place to limit the amount that can be carried by an individual, and who is allowed to sell it, it is more or less legal in the same manner alcohol has been for decades. While the effects of this law has strengthened individual liberties for Canadians, hundreds of thousands of Canadians are left behind because their previous, victimless so-called crimes will not be expunged under the current legislation therefore they should be granted amnesty.

A 2014 study shows that nearly 500,000 Canadians have a criminal record for marijuana possession alone, and in 2016 nearly 55,000 were arrested for cannabis related offences. Those found guilty of cannabis-related offences will have a harder time finding employment, securing a mortgage, volunteering their time to help vulnerable children, and more, due to this unjust, discriminatory oversight. This limits the potential of half of a million Canadians to be productive members of society, all due to a choice that was made which would have absolutely no consequences had it occurred a minute past midnight on October 17, 2018, this in my opinion is unjust. Providing amnesty to these individuals would allow them to pursue new opportunities they would not have been able to before – thousands will be lifted out of poverty as they can lay the stepping-stones to pursue higher-paying jobs that they would not have bothered to try applying for due to mandatory criminal record checks.

In addition, there is evidence that proves that the enforcement, policing, and resulting conviction of cannabis related offences was inherently racist, and discriminatory. The Prime Minister who won on the mandate to decriminalize marijuana said himself that he smoked marijuana in his youth, and even went as far as to say that he did so while as an elected Member of Parliament. He made these statements in 2013 as Liberal Party leader, ignoring the fact that many that were not as privileged to have been born into a family of power consumed cannabis and have criminal records and would be denied opportunities in life that he would not. Cannabis use is proportionately consistent amongst races, but in Canada, blacks and Indigenous people were three times as likely to be arrested for a possession-related offence than a white individual.

After a conviction, the record that one would have is life-altering, it is unfair to think that because the law has passed, currently individuals are able to possess marijuana freely while others pay the price due to a law which is no longer in act. Marijuana is no longer illegal, and thus anyone with a conviction should have their record erased. However, there should be certain conditions that are met so that it is fair and equitable; there shall be no ties to organized crime, not be a violent offender, not a drug trafficker, and not have sold to children and has no felony

convictions. In other words, the crime that was committed should be one that would not be punishable under the new legislation, in my opinion this would be a justly handling the situation.

Amnesty should be given to those convicted of nonviolent possession-related offenses as they pose no threat to the safety of society-at-large, can lead more fulfilling lives, and would receive long-overdue justice as a majority of these convictions were given to people from vulnerable backgrounds and those in privileged households did not have to deal with the consequences of this archaic law.

One might argue that because the crime occurred while it was illegal to consume marijuana, and despite the fact that it is legal now, it doesn’t change the fact that a crime was committed. There are countless instances in history where amnesty was granted to people groups and individuals convicted of a crime that were also victimless, that was not considered socially acceptable in its time. For example, homosexuality was a crime in the UK until 1967; amnesty and posthumous pardons have been given to those affected by this law. Even when considered on a case-by-case basis, victim impact statements would not have to be considered, as there are none, and it is a matter of the federal government to take the initiative to provide amnesty to those with pre-legalization convictions.

There is also concern that granting amnesty in this case would lessen the severity and seriousness of the law, and that doing so would give the public the opinion that the law is weak and should not be taken seriously. This argument is flawed as this does not take into account that amnesty is only being considered because something is becoming decriminalized – in order for it



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