Marijuana legalization at the public library

By ├ćndrew Rininsland

Drug reform activists and members of the community discussed cannabis legalization at the Calgary Public Library theatre last Friday.

Sponsored by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Canada and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the event was part of a cross-Canada tour designed to build public awareness of drug law issues and construct a policy document to be presented to the federal government later this year.

“We’ve been asking a lot of people what models they think are appropriate for legal cannabis and the most common answer is the alcohol model,” said NORML Canada executive director Marc-Boris St-Maurice, who moderated the event. “You can make beer and wine at home, but if you want to sell it, you have to meet certain criteria, with some differences. Obviously beer is not marijuana, but generally that’s what we’ve been hearing most and that’s probably the model we should be looking at.”

On the panel was writer and editor Lisa Kirkman, local activist Keith Fagin, former police officer and Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young, legalization advocate Jim Hilsenteger and federal medicinal cannabis recipient Grant Cluff.

While all panelists were in favour of changing the existing laws in some way, much of the evening revolved around actual implementation of new policy.

Discussions highlighted the economic, medicinal and social justice factors surrounding the plant.

“In the States, there are over four million children whose parents are in prison on a drug-related charge,” said Hilsenteger, who argued that the American-led war on drugs is extremely costly for our system.

“[Children with parents in prison] have a seven-to-one chance of ending up in prison themselves,” he added.

Calgary was the seventh stop in the 14-city tour, which wraps up its first run later this month.

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