Marc and Jodie Emery joined marchers in Toronto to demand that the federal government immediately decriminalize weed and pardon people convicted of possession.
While the Liberal government is on track to partially legalize marijuana by July 2018, many participants of the 19th annual Global Marijuana March called the new legislation “Prohibition 2.0.”
The federal Liberals’ plan would further criminalize marijuana, according to Global Marijuana March grand marshall Jodie Emery. “They will only give us the bare minimum and they’re going to try to restrict and limit access to cannabis and that will result in more suffering, more arrests.”
Under the proposed Cannabis Act, people will be allowed to possess a maximum of 30 grams of marijuana and those who want to grow their own weed will be limited to four plants per household.
Carrying more than 30 grams could be punished by a $5,000 fine or up to five years in prison.
The bill also imposes harsher penalties for anyone caught selling marijuana without a license, growing marijuana illegally, or selling pot to a minor, which could land them in prison for up to 14 years.
The incoming legislation leaves it up to the provinces to create taxation and distribution models carried out by licensed distributors only.
Any criminalization of marijuana has disproportionately targeted communities of colour. The Liberals have also been clear with regard to people currently incarcerated: there will be no amnesty for those convicted of marijuana possession.
Estimates are as many as 1.1 million Canadians have criminal records related to marijuana dating back to 1965.
In 2016, former Toronto Police Chief and current Liberal MP Bill Blair, called Canada’s persecution of marijuana users, “one of the great injustices in this country,” but that didn’t stop him from stating that current laws in effect should, “continue to be obeyed, upheld, and enforced.”
Toronto has seen raids carried out on marijuana dispensaries that have charged their operators with possession and trafficking.
“If it’s truly legal we can all grow any amount we want,” says long time marijuana activist Marc Emery. “Instead they are forming a cartel and oligarchy where they give out special privileges to vested groups— mostly stock market investors—to grow the marijuana and sell it to use under some exclusive provision this is really prohibition 2.0.”