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Cannabis law reform in Canada: is the 'saga of promise, hesitation and retreat' coming to an end?


Fischer, B; Ala-Leppilampi, K; Single, E; Robins, A (2003). Cannabis law reform in Canada: is the 'saga of promise, hesitation and retreat' coming to an end? Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 45(3):265-297.

Abstract

The Canadian Federal government has promised legislation that will decriminalize the simple possession of cannabis by the summer of 2003. This paper will first review the socio-historical context as it pertains to the criminalization of cannabis use in Canada. Specifically, it will discuss the numerous (unsuccessful) legal and political attempts at cannabis-control reform in the past 30 years, called "the saga of promise, hesitation and retreat" by Giffen, Endicott, and Lambert (1991: 571). It will then review some distinct forces in the current cannabis law reform debate, namely a series of high-profile court cases, patterns of public opinion, and the recommendations of two federal inquiries, all of which contribute to the momentum for reform. After summarizing the diverse landscape of cannabis-control regimes in other Western countries, this paper will examine more closely the actual options that exist for cannabis decriminalization in Canada and their possible effects and implications. Specifically, making simple cannabis possession a civil offence, as suggested, would provide for both discretionary interpretations and net-widening effects in law enforcement and would, in addition, leave the cannabis supply question unresolved.

Abstract

The Canadian Federal government has promised legislation that will decriminalize the simple possession of cannabis by the summer of 2003. This paper will first review the socio-historical context as it pertains to the criminalization of cannabis use in Canada. Specifically, it will discuss the numerous (unsuccessful) legal and political attempts at cannabis-control reform in the past 30 years, called "the saga of promise, hesitation and retreat" by Giffen, Endicott, and Lambert (1991: 571). It will then review some distinct forces in the current cannabis law reform debate, namely a series of high-profile court cases, patterns of public opinion, and the recommendations of two federal inquiries, all of which contribute to the momentum for reform. After summarizing the diverse landscape of cannabis-control regimes in other Western countries, this paper will examine more closely the actual options that exist for cannabis decriminalization in Canada and their possible effects and implications. Specifically, making simple cannabis possession a civil offence, as suggested, would provide for both discretionary interpretations and net-widening effects in law enforcement and would, in addition, leave the cannabis supply question unresolved.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Canada;Cannabis;use
Language:English
Date:2003
Deposited On:13 May 2014 13:09
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:47
Publisher:University of Toronto Press * Journals Division
ISSN:1707-7753
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3138/cjccj.45.3.265
Official URL:https://www.ccja-acjp.ca/en/cjc/cjc45a3.html#one

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