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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Decriminalize pot in Nova Scotia?

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has ordered the government to provide medical marijuana to those that have prescriptions. I’m not sure I like this decision. As Nova Scotia Justice Minister, Ross Laundry, points out, it could mean that the province is stuck providing medication that is not covered by their health care system. It seems that the Nova Scotia Supreme Court is setting policy for the government of Nova Scotia.

But an interesting by product of this decision is that Minister Laundry is opening the door to a debate about decriminalizing marijuana:

Landry, a former RCMP officer, said when he worked as a police officer he found prosecuting such cases time-consuming and believes it’s worth seeing if that process can be improved upon.

"I’m a firm believer (in) ‘You do the crime, you do the time,’ " Landry said. "Do the penalties match what the crime is?

"I’ll look forward to discussion in regards to that matter."

But he wouldn’t commit to having a firm position on decriminalizing the drug.

It seems to me that if he is even opening up the discussion he has some sympathy towards the decriminalization argument. Yet he is unwilling to take the political risk of coming out in support of decriminalizing small usage of marijuana. Still the more that this issue has an opportunity to be debated the greater chance that government can be convinced to stop persecuting pot smokers.

In Canada we have a history of provincial governments leading the way in reform or policy innovation. In areas of health care and democratic reform, the provinces have acted as experiments for the rest of the country. Perhaps if marijuana laws are to be liberalized it is the provinces who once again need to move ahead of the federal government.

Maybe that movement will begin in Nova Scotia.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 3, 2010 | Permalink

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