The decriminalization of cannabis is a long-awaited move by the Canadian government. But what does it actually mean? Here’s a look at the implications of this new legislation.
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The Basics of Decriminalization
Decriminalization is the lessening or elimination of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts, in this case the possession of cannabis. This does not mean that the act itself is legal, but rather that the penalties associated with the act are reduced or eliminated. Decriminalization typically goes hand-in-hand with the regulation and/or legalization of cannabis.
The definition of decriminalization
The definition of decriminalization is the lessening of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts, while still maintaining the existence of the criminal offence. In some cases, decriminalization can also refer to the complete removal of all criminal penalties for an act. When it comes to cannabis, decriminalization typically refers to the removal of criminal penalties for possession and/or use of small amounts of cannabis.
Decriminalization vs. legalization
While these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a big distinction between decriminalization and legalization. Decriminalization simply means reducing the penalties for possession and use of an illegal substance like cannabis so that they are no longer criminal offenses. This does not make the substance legal, but rather eliminates criminal penalties. People who are caught with small amounts of cannabis may still face fines or other punishments, but they will not have a criminal record.
Legalization, on the other hand, would make cannabis completely legal, much like alcohol and tobacco. People would be able to grow, possess and use cannabis without any sort of penalty. In some cases, legalization also includes regulations and taxation schemes to control the production and sale of cannabis products.
The History of Cannabis Decriminalization
The cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. In recent years, there has been a push to decriminalize cannabis in many countries. This means that possession of small amounts of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offense.
Early attempts at decriminalization
The early 1970s saw the first significant attempt at decriminalizing cannabis in the United States. This began with the passage of Senate Bill 90 in Oregon in 1973, which removed criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis. This was followed by a number of other states, including Alaska, Colorado, Maine, and Nebraska, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis during the 1970s.
However, these early attempts at decriminalization were largely unsuccessful. In most cases, decriminalization did not lead to a significant decrease in arrests for cannabis possession or use. In some cases, such as Alaska and Colorado, rates of cannabis use actually increased after decriminalization.
It was not until the late 1990s that decriminalization began to have a more significant impact on cannabis use in the United States. This was due to a number of factors, including the increasing acceptance of medical cannabis and the growing movement to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalized medical cannabis. This had a major impact on attitudes towards cannabis, and over the next decade a number of other states followed suit. By 2006, 11 states had legalized medical cannabis. At the same time, a number of cities and counties began to adopt policies that allowed for the sale and possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use.
The decriminalization of cannabis finally began to have a significant impact on arrest rates in the early 21st century. Between 2001 and 2010, there was a 53% reduction in arrests for possession of small amounts of cannabis in states that had adopted decriminalization policies. This is compared to a 27% reduction in states that did not have such policies in place. The impact of decriminalization on rates of Cannabis use is less clear. A 2014 study found that there was no significant difference in rates of past-month Cannabis use between states that had adopted decriminalization policies and those that had not.
More recent decriminalization efforts
In the late 60s and early 70s, a movement to decriminalize cannabis gained traction across the United States. A number of states, including California, Colorado, Maine, Alaska, andOregon, passed laws making possession of small amounts of cannabis a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine rather than jail time.
The decriminalization of cannabis at the state level continued into the 1980s and 1990s with a number of additional states passing similar laws. However, in the past few years there has been a shift away from decriminalization and towards legalization.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to pass laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. Since then, a number of other states have followed suit with Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington all passing laws to legalize recreational cannabis use.
The trend towards legalization has also been seen at the local level with a number of cities and counties passing their own legalization ordinances. The most notable example is probably Denver which passed an ordinance in 2005 making possession of small amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 and over.
The trend towards decriminalization or legalization appears to be driven by a growing acceptance of cannabis use among the general population. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 64% of Americans now support legalizing cannabis which is up from just 36% in 1995.
The Pros and Cons of Decriminalization
Decriminalization is the removal of laws and penalties surrounding an activity. For example, the decriminalization of cannabis would mean that there would no longer be any laws or penalties surrounding the possession or use of cannabis. There are a few pros and cons to the decriminalization of cannabis. Let’s take a look.
The pros of decriminalization
Decriminalization would save the government an estimated $13.7 billion annually in law enforcement and judicial resources while raising $8.7 billion in annual tax revenue, according to a 2013 report by the nonpartisan think tank Rand Corp.
A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use would lead to “minimal” changes in marijuana use patterns.
People who are arrested and jailed for possessing small amounts of marijuana often suffer long-term consequences including difficulty finding housing and employment, which can lead to homelessness and poverty.
The cons of decriminalization
Critics of decriminalization argue that it would lead to increased drug use, send the wrong message to young people about drug use, and would not eliminate the illegal market for drugs. They also argue that decriminalization would lead to more drugged driving, more drugged-driving accidents, and more emergency room visits.
What Decriminalization Means for the Future of Cannabis
On October 17th, 2018, Canada will be the first G7 nation to have federally legalized cannabis. This means that cannabis will be treated like any other commodity, such as alcohol or tobacco. So, what does this decriminalization mean for the future of cannabis?
The impact of decriminalization on the cannabis industry
The decriminalization of cannabis possession for personal use is a huge step forward for the cannabis industry. Decriminalization means that people will no longer be criminalized for possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This change will have a profound impact on the cannabis industry, which has been fighting for years to end the prohibition of cannabis.
Decriminalization will allow the cannabis industry to grow and thrive. It will create new jobs and opportunities for people who are passionate about cannabis. It will also allow businesses to operate more freely and without fear of prosecution. This is a huge win for the industry, and it will pave the way for further reform in the future.
The impact of decriminalization on public health
The decriminalization of cannabis has the potential to impact public health in a number of ways. For one, it could make it easier for people to access cannabis for medicinal purposes. It could also lead to increased education and public awareness about the risks and benefits of cannabis use. And finally, it could reduce the stigma associated with cannabis use, making it more acceptable and mainstream.
There is a great deal of research that still needs to be done in order to fully understand the potential impacts of decriminalization on public health. However, it is clear that there is the potential for both positive and negative outcomes. It is important to continue to monitor the situation and make sure that any changes are made with public health in mind.