Number of positions: 1 Duration: 30hrs/week for 8 weeks beginning as soon as possible Wage: $11.25/hr Supervisor: Outreach Director Location: Toronto, ON Posting Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 Application Deadline: Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is a grassroots network of autonomous chapters made up of youth and students who are concerned about the negative impact current drug policies have on individuals and communities. CSSDP considers problematic drug use a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, and advocates for appropriate government and agency responses to reduce and prevent harm from drug use. CSSDP provides education and resources to empower young people to make informed decisions about illicit substances, while simultaneously creating a compassionate and non-judgmental space for discussion. CSSDP mobilizes its members to participate in the political process at all levels and to push for government policies grounded on evidence which will help Canada achieve a safer and more just future.
Position Summary: The Community Organizing and Outreach Intern will be responsible for mobilizing CSSDP chapters with a nation-wide action, using social media and blogs to engage youth, and developing alternative funding strategies for CSSDP. We are seeking a candidate who is passionate about drug policy reform and highly motivated. Mentorship opportunities will be available to the successful candidate.
Organizing, coordinating, and hosting an action for “Support. Don’t Punish” on June 26 among chapters and partner organizations
Updating social media platforms and website with relevant developments, particularly those pertaining to Canada, and drafting and sending newsletter updates to CSSDP membership
Producing unique content for CSSDP’s website and other relevant publications, including researching, drafting, and publishing finalized editions
Staying up to date on drug policy and responding with social media and unique content as the story develops
Updating organization resources and website content
Developing and implementing a strategy to create a stable revenue stream separate from grant funding
Collaborating to create viable business plans for future harm reduction services with partner organizations and beginning implementation (which may include branding, creating distribution networks, and marketing)
Attending relevant events on behalf of CSSDP and creating unique content based on experiences
Other duties (attending meetings, brainstorming future campaigns etc.) as required
Be a post-secondary student returning to school in September 2015
Be a youth (ages 16-29)
Self-identify as a person with a disability
Be technologically literate, as well as have exceptional organizational and proven social media skills (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Demonstrate excellent communication skills and ability to target multiple audiences (politicians, youth, etc.)
Be a reliable and capable team player and be able to work independently
Have previous experience in any of the following fields: communications, public relations, non-profit management, web development, fundraising, community organizing, or other related disciplines
Demonstrate a particular interest in working towards drug policy reform, grassroots social change movements, and youth organizing
CSSDP is an anti-oppression based organization that values diversity. We encourage applications from people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, trans people, people of colour, people who use drugs, queer folks and youth with other identities that are often marginalized. CSSDP is committed to being an accessible employer. Please let us know of any accommodations you might require throughout the application process or while working at CSSDP.
420 in Toronto was a happy, high gathering of thousands, but the true meaning behind the protest didn’t fade away with the smoke. Despite the haze, it was a clear picture why we need to reform drug policy in Canada and around the Globe! CSSDP Toronto shared a booth with membership-based cannabis dispensary Canndo, handing out harm reduction literature and encouraging students to get involved with drug policy. As thousands of Torontonians from every walk of life indulged in the many forms of cannabis, the real reason for gathering was not forgotten. There was a bigger conversation to be had than just “puff, puff, pass”!
CSSDP Volunteers with CannDo Toronto, providing drug policy info, harm reduction resources and supplies to over 10,000 attendees!
Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam (above photo by Sean Brady) became the first politician to speak publicly at a Toronto 420 rally. It was inspiring to witness her laying down the facts while everyone lit up, making sure that all the gaps in the cannabis legalization conversation were filled with knowledge. True to the history of cannabis culture, she talked about why 420 is more than just a festival, but is set on the principles of democracy.
Kristyn Wong Tam touched on an important issue: cannabis legalization is about quality of life. Patients who have chronic pain, people living with HIV, and many other medical conditions benefit from cannabis, and despite the MMPR, many still cannot access quality medicine safely. Even more so, cannabis is a social justice issue. For people of colour, potentially racially profiled, now with unnecessary nonviolent criminal records. For young people, who without access to factual information can make riskier decisions when using drugs. For families, many that are torn apart by unsubstantiated beliefs fueled by propaganda. Changing our current drug policies would allow for better quality of life, access to support, and would morph laws based on fear into a culture of understanding. CSSDP touched on these issues in our speech to the crowd with Trip! Project shortly before 420 ceremonies commenced:
CSSDP & Trip! Project getting the crowd warmed up for 420!
Just before 420 a total of 4,000 pre-rolled joints were handed out to the crowd, and Dundas Square was covered in a lovely, skunky cloud for the entire day. The rain cleared away some of the smoke, but as always, the sun came back out just in time for 4:20pm. Throughout the course of the day I only saw two police officers in full uniform at the Toronto 420 rally. They were caring for a young girl, who was getting sick in the corner, while writing her a ticket for public intoxication. Unlike Vancouver 420, Toronto 420 had zero hospitalizations and harm reduction resources were distributed to all booths present. Media outlets reported on the 64 individuals that went to the Vancouver hospital emergency room on April 20th. It could also be argued that the Canadian media does not focus on the dangers of cannabis substitutes, known as Spice or K2, which has seen a flood of related poisonings throughout the US. The most important point is that with legalization comes easy access to information, and with regulation, potential harm could be reduced from every angle.
420 Toronto was a huge success! Stay tuned for the Global Marijuana March. Photo by Sean Brady
Although cannabis legalization tends to be a light hearted social issue embedded into the Canadian identity, the annual 420 protest isn’t just wisps of smoke trailing off into the air. It’s about drug policy, and what’s best for individuals and for society as a whole. How can we help change our laws, and minds, to positive results? Well, as Krystin Tam Wong said, it’s safer to stand up for our rights together.And just to make a point, we’ll keep smoking together too. We are doing just that this Saturday May 2nd at the Global Marijuana March at Queens Park! CSSDP will be representing with a mobile outreach team giving away free copies of Transform Drug Policy Foundations “How to Regulate Cannabis, a Practical Guide“, CSSDP fliers and selling t-shirts and snacks to fundraise for our Toronto chapter and Trip! Project.
I am a member of an amazing group called the Brantford Cannabis Club (BCC), which is focused on the community and changing the stigma around cannabis consumers. We also have a small group called the “Lazy Stoners: which is dedicated to volunteering around the community and pooling our skills and resources to help those in need. These same members also helped built a fence for a neighbour, assisted in many city-wide clean ups and took part in various community events. Overall, we have been trying to impact our city and bring forth positive change on behalf of the cannabis community.
We have recently been partnering with a new organization called SHARC (Self Help Addiction Resource Center) and taking part in things like food and clothing drives. Brantford’s first 420 rally was in 2014 and we managed to bring in 92 pounds of food to donate. At the same event in 2015, we brought in 248 pounds of food! We were also involved in the “Men in Heels Walk” which sponsors the Nova-Vita Women’s Shelter and managed to raise over $500 as a group. Some of the male members also wore red high heel shoes and took a walk downtown. It was great exposure for the group and an important service to support in the community.
The BCC was founded in 2013 and the “Lazy Stoners: started in the summer of 2014 during a construction project for a fellow member of the group. There was a lot of work with very little funds available, so the member relied heavily on the volunteer efforts of the group. The group also contributed to building a fence and gate for another member, again, all volunteer work. We believe in supporting each other, because we collectively believe our government is failing us and we need to be a catalyst for change.
During the winter months, some of the members would shovel snow for the elderly or assist where they could in clearing walkways. During the nicer seasons, we all gather together to clean up trails and areas that seem to be forgotten or need help cleaning. By wearing our club shirts and doing good things, we are breaking the stigma that pot smokers are lazy and inconsiderate. Some of the most considerate, kind hearted and compassionate people I know I have met through the cannabis community, and for that I am thankful.
As stated, we at the BCC are committed to changing the attitude about cannabis, both medicinally and recreationally. Our group is filled with consumers and non consumers, young and old of every nationality and religious belief. We are all human and we deserve a safe, healthy lifestyle free of abuse from authorities.
April 20 in Vancouver was a beautiful day; Mother Nature gave the 20,000+ in attendance the perfect weather to rally against unjust and unethical governmental policies in place against marijuana use. The vibes were positive and the crowd was just as you’d expect, social, friendly and stoned.
At first, our booth was seemingly far away from the epicenter of the festivities, but as the afternoon progressed, and the clocked ticked closer and closer to 4:20, the traffic was inevitable. Chris and I spent the afternoon explaining to interested folks about our organization, how Canadian policies vary from other countries, and re-affirming the need for policy change. I was engaged in a few in-depth discussions with folks who were generally curious as to how Canadian laws worked, and our conversations always pointed to larger societal issues and policies surrounding all drug use and the public health considerations. That was great! That was what CSSDP was there to do. However, it is worth mentioning that the only people even remotely interested in what we were there to do were not the youth we so deeply wished to engage.
During my walk around the parameter, I couldn’t help but feel that the real reason we were all meant to gather was lost. It seemed a sea of disengaged youth there for the novelty and ‘cool’ factor. It was as if our consumerism and the government who pioneered it had infiltrated our protest. It felt like a marijuana mall, full of people looking to buy shit. They wanted t-shirts, edibles, stickers, but not information. They wanted the experience without the need of social engagement. The theme of the event this year was on point, “Grow the Vote”, but I couldn’t help but feel that this message was shadowed by the amount of vendors. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for vendors to be there, I understand that it is a business, and I understand the usefulness of such vendors, but in the context it felt misguided. I am not the only one who felt this way either.
As for the hospitalization of 64 people, I think this news is something we can use to our advantage when rationalizing the need for regulation. When you consume too much of anything, you get sick, pot included. It was a hot day, people were packed in like sardines, consuming cannabis all day, it was inevitable that people would surpass their limits and begin to feel ill. Did that take away from the cause? No, as there are almost always hospitalizations at large scale events. Did it give leverage to the fear-mongering media and the legislations they support? Yes. I argue though, that this was simply another repercussion of over-consumption and that if proper regulations were in place (the fact we were there to promote!) most of these incidences could have been avoided.
This year’s rally left me with questions, how do we engage a population so disconnected from the politics and structure that they live within? How do we organize events where the message is strong and embraced? How do we combat the current policies with more than merchandise? We need to shift the movement from being focused on commercializing cannabis culture to promoting safe and responsible policies for legalizing and regulating cannabis.
Montreal’s 420 rally took place at Mount Royal Park, a large park west of downtown Montreal that hosts hundreds on sunny weekends. As the day began with rain and wind, the crowd was slow to gather. By 2:30 pm, about 60 people had gathered close to the music. Tethered tarps provided the DJ booth and a small dance space with protection from the rain, and about half the crowd donned ponchos handed out by the Organisation Canadienne pour la Législation de la Marihuana (OCLM). People moved to the dancehall tunes and shared joints in the rain as the crowd grew.
credit: Samuel Barbeau, @stonedandflyqc on Instagram
By 4:20 pm, hundreds had gathered in defiance of the ongoing downpour and the illegality of cannabis, forming a second, larger crowd near the George-Etienne Cartier Monument a couple hundred feet from the DJ booth. Due to the weather, we weren’t able to set up a CSSDP table, so Mel, Jesse, and myself walked around and talked to several groups of people, sharing Drug Policy Alliance stickers and pins, CSSDP rolling trays, and NORML campaign materials. At the same time, about two dozen OCLM volunteers worked their way through the crowd, speaking to people and handing out flyers and t-shirts. The main tent shielded joint rollers from the rain, and a visible layer of smoke had begun to form above people’s heads. Closer to the street, a CTV anchor interviewed members of the crowd and gathered soundbites for the evening news.
credit: Jesse Anger, Dyad Press
The turnout at the Montreal rally, as well as other rallies across the country, is an ongoing testament to the public support for the legalization of production, distribution, and possession of cannabis in Canada. With several states in the U.S. already moving in this direction, many Canadians feel it’s time for us to do the same, and the turnout of well over 100,000 at rallies across the country hopes to ensure that legalization becomes a key issue in this upcoming election year.
This past Monday over 40 communities from coast to coast to coast Canadians from all backgrounds and ages made a strong statement that its time to legalize the production, distribution, and possession of the cannabis plant. With well over a hundred thousand Canadians rallying throughout the nation, the cannabis reform movement was successful in ensuring our presence is well felt in this pivotal election year. Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) was well represented throughout the nation by providing a firm presence in each of the major protests in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver. According to Facebook, across Canada over 100,000 people came out to celebrate 420!
Board member Gonzo Nieto led our Montreal presence by providing drug policy reform literature, harm reduction information, and selling CSSDP shirts to the fine attendees gathering at Mont Royal. In Ottawa, board member Christopher Ducas was up bright and early for an interview on CTV’s Canada AM to explain the importance of Canada’s 420 rallies and then was off to the Hill to distribute pamphlets to protesters while attempting to engage friendly politicians, such as Honourable Member of Parliament Dr. Carolyn Bennett. Meanwhile, in Toronto, CSSDP Outreach Director Lisa Campbell and board member Steff Pinch provided stirring speeches to the thousands of assembled protesters getting them fired up about drug policy reform. Finally, board member Chris Carroll and CSSDP SFU member Christine Coulter led our tabling efforts in Vancouver where we disseminated a vast array of drug policy reform information to the large crowd assembled outside the city’s art gallery.
The unprecedented crowds at many of the 420 protests throughout the nation is a sign that the Canadian people are ready for change on this very important issue. Unfortunately, many politicians who walked by the Parliament Hill protest on their way to the House of Commons looked down upon us with scornful eyes with some even laughing at the attendees. Its this kind of mindset amongst some of our politicians that perpetuate bad policies that hurt good people. Yet, its acts such as these that motivates everyone at the CSSDP to continue to advocate for more compassionate and sensible drug policies. Tune in for more reports from 420 across the country over this next week from our volunteers!
Ontario’s Bill 45 poses threat to medical cannabis patients & vapor lounges
An Ontario legislative committee is currently considering Bill 45, a piece of legislation whose stated purpose is to enhance public health. However, a close reading of the bill’s “Electronic Cigarettes Act” uncovers prohibitionist policies which will impose significant limits on some medical cannabis patients and may put vapor lounges in the province at risk.
Though the title might suggest that the legislation specifically targets tobacco and nicotine products, the act is written to apply to any vaporizer, regardless of the substance being vaporized. This definition significantly extends the act’s reach, implicating medical cannabis patients who vaporize as well as vapor lounges. The act applies specifically to the sale of vaporizers, and not to the sale of substances which are vaporized.
To begin with, the bill prohibits stores which sell vaporizers from allowing customers to view or handle a vaporizer prior to purchasing it. The vendor is also prohibited from speaking to the customer about the vaporizer in any way that might be construed as creating an awareness or encouraging the purchase of a vaporizer.
These policies, the same that are currently in place for the sale of cigarettes, are entirely misplaced in the context of vaporizers, a device that essentially consists of a battery and a button and is sold separately from cannabis oils and electronic cigarette liquids.
Medical marijuana patients, and users of vaporizers and electronic cigarettes in general, need to consult someone knowledgeable and be able to explore different options prior to making a purchase, much the same way one can look at, handle, and ask questions about a vacuum cleaner or laptop prior to buying it. However, this bill will force medical patients and other customers of electronic cigarettes to make a completely blind purchase of up to several hundred dollars for a piece of equipment they know little about and have never seen.
In addition to limiting the consumer’s access and information to vaporizers, the bill outright prohibits use of vaporizers in all enclosed public places, workplaces, common spaces of condos and apartment buildings, vehicles carrying anyone under 16, and seating sections of any sports arenas and entertainment venues. It additionally tasks employers with enforcing this ban and removing from the workplace anyone who refuses to comply.
Once again, policy that is currently in place for cigarettes, which give off toxic second-hand smoke, is not necessarily relevant to or suitable for the use of vaporizers and electronic cigarettes, which do not give off smoke. This is the entire point of vaporizers—they reach a temperature that releases the active ingredients in a vapour without requiring combustion.
The bill also fails to account for the impact it will have on medical cannabis patients who vaporize. Vaporizing is the preferred delivery method for many patients who use medical cannabis to manage a range of conditions and symptoms. However, these restrictions will create many obstacles in the lives of these patients by unnecessarily limiting where they can take their medicine.
If passed, the bill may also threaten the existence of Ontario’s vapor lounges altogether, as they are included in the definition of “enclosed public spaces” where vaporizers may not be used. Considering the act takes no issue with the existence of shisha bars, it is fundamentally illogical for them to prohibit the existence of a similar type of venue, where all present are consenting adults consuming a less harmful substance using a less harmful method of ingestion.
It is hardly conceivable how these particular measures will promote public health. Rather, it can be argued that this act’s excessive restrictions will serve to impair aspects of public health by placing significant limitations on medical cannabis patients and threatening the existence of vapor lounges which provide unique community spaces.
Ontario’s Standing Committee on General Government will be holding public hearings for this bill on April 20, 21, and 22. If you live nearby, show up with some friends! If you cannot attend but still want to make yourself heard, you can submit your comments in writing to the committee’s Clerk, Silwia Przezdziecki, at firstname.lastname@example.org before 5:00 pm on April 22.
Growing up, you probably heard a lot of information about drugs. With different people telling you different things, this information can often be confusing. We won’t tell you that drugs are good or bad, and we won’t tell you whether you should do drugs or not. That’s a choice that you have to make for yourself. With the help of CSSDP, you can make sure it’s an educated choice. You can use information sourced by CSSDP as a resource to learn the honest facts about drugs and to help you when making decisions about drugs in your life, or help your friends with their questions.
If you choose to use drugs you will find useful information about the risks you face as well as ways to limit or control some of those risks.
If you choose not to use drugs you will find useful information about drugs that you can pass on when someone you know is making choices about their own drug use, to help them make safer and more responsible decisions.
First, take a minute to think about what a drug is:
A drug is any substance (other than food) which changes the way the body or mind functions
Drugs may or may not have medicinal properties or purposes
Drugs can come from plants or be made in labs, most are a little of both.
Drugs can be legal, illegal, helpful or harmful
There are all sorts of drugs that are available to use – legally as well as illegally – and each one effects our bodies and minds differently. Check out this list below:
Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
Pharmaceuticals and Prescription Drugs
Legal party pills
Caffeine, Energy Drinks
Think about people’s choices when it comes to drug use.
Every person has his or her own motives and reasons for doing what they do, whether it’s drug use, sports, types of movies they like, who they hang out with…whatever! While some motives are common, there is no single explanation for the things individuals choose to do. Although some sources will tell you that using drugs is good or bad, there is no way we can make such statements when people use drugs for many different reasons. Before judging people based on whether they use drugs or not, think about some of the reasons people use drugs:
Social reasons – Some people use drugs because it’s often a shared activity that makes them feel like part of a group. Some people also use drugs because they make them feel less inhibited, and more outgoing then they usually would.
Pleasure/Euphoria – Some people enjoy the physical and psychological sensations they get from using drugs; drugs make them feel good or take away some of their pain.
Mood Altering Effects – If a person is sad, depressed or stressed out, they may turn to drugs to forget their troubles. This works for a little while, but the problems usually do not disappear unless they are addressed directly.
Rebellion – Some people, especially young people, use drugs as a form of rebellion, against their parents, teachers, or other authority figures, to prove how ‘bad’ they are, or that they know something about drugs that isn’t taught in school or by their parents.
Curiousity – Some people try drugs because they are curious about them and what their effects might be.
Boredom – Some people try drugs because they think they have nothing better to do.
Religious/Spiritual Ritual – There are many groups and religions which use certain drugs as part of their ceremonies or rituals, often because they feel the drug brings them closer to their god(s) or deities, closer to themselves, or closer to each other.
Medical reasons – Most people use legal drugs as medications at some point in their lives, but some of the illegal drugs listed on this website have been shown to have therapeutic properties, meaning that these illegal drugs are sometimes used for legitimate medical purposes, even though the user might face legal problems for doing so.
Academic or Extracurricular Performance – Some people use drugs to improve their performance in sports, academics or other extracurricular activities.
Sex – Some people use drugs in an attempt to change or improve their sexual experiences.
Depending on the person and the situation, each of the reasons above could be legitimate reasons to use drugs, or just excuses to misuse or abuse drugs. It’s up to each individual to look at their own choices and actions and decide for themselves.
No matter what choices someone make when it comes to drugs, keep in mind the things discussed above and try to understand a person’s choices before judging them. If you are concerned about a friend’s or family member’s choices, try to have an open conversation with them, and involve an adult if you want to or feel that you have to, but realize that what this person needs is your respect and support, not judgment.
If you choose to use, check where you’re at… Take a critical look at your own drug use.
If you’ve chosen to use drugs, you can limit or control many of the risks associated with it by thinking critically about your personal drug use, and making changes when you think they are necessary. If you keep an eye on yourself, it will be harder for your drug use to slip out of your own control.
Assessing your use: Take a look at this scale of drug use and think about where you fit in. You might not fit perfectly into one of these categories, but this is a rough scale to help you think about your drug use and the role it plays in your life.
Non-User – people who choose to abstain from substance use
Experimentation – people who have tried a substance only a few times, they are usually about to make the decision to return to being a non-user or to move on to being an occasional user or a social user.
Occasional User – people who use drugs infrequently, usually for special occasions, and tend not to get overly intoxicated. Their drug use is not associated with life problems.
Social User – people who use drugs only in social settings, as a part of socializing. Their drug use is not typically associated with life problems, and using drugs is not important to them in comparison with to other life activities and experiences.
Instrumental User – people who use drugs more regularly with the intention of seeking pleasure or avoiding pain (physical or psychological).
Habitual User – people who use drugs often or daily. For these people, drugs are beginning to create serious problems in one or more areas of their lives, but they still have some choice about using.
Compulsive User – people who experience an overwhelming physical or psychological need to use drugs. These people experience no real choice about using drugs and often feels no control over the amount they use either. The compulsive user can be considered addicted.
Binge User – people who use larger amounts of drugs with the goal of excessive intoxication on a sporadic basis with periods of little or no use in between. Binge use can be very problematic and is often associated with violence, hostility/aggressiveness, domestic/family problems, work/school problems, arrest and hospitalization.
Are you comfortable with your spot on the scale?
If your answer is yes, think about which point you would begin to feel uncomfortable at and what you can do to keep yourself from reaching that point. What are steps that you can take to avoid letting your drug use take over your life?
If your answer is no, think about why not and what steps you are willing to take to change that. If your drug use is causing problems in your life, if the risks you are taking outweigh the benefits you were seeking, if you’ve forgotten why you started using drugs in the first place, it might be time to think about adjusting your drug use.
You can use many of the resources listed in the Ask Questions, Find Help section as a starting point for tips and advice on how to further assess and change your drug use behaviours and habits. Even just talking to a friend, family member or someone else you trust can help put perspective on a situation that might seem overwhelming.
Remember, the only way to avoid all of the risks of drug use, including the social risks and the risks of dependence and addiction, is to avoid drug use altogether.
On April 20, cannabis users across Canada and around the world will be celebrating 420, challenging the stigma around cannabis and fighting for drug policy reform. Once again, CSSDP is hosting the 420 Blog Series to report and reflect on 420 festivities. CSSDP members from Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa will be doing outreach at 420 and writing about the festivities in the following week. If you would like to be involved, please send an email to our Outreach Director Lisa Campbell at email@example.com. We are happy to accept and publish posts from CSSDP members and non-members, from across Canada and abroad, and from places that are represented and are not represented in the series thus far.
If you have the privilege of living in one of Canada’s major cities, there are lots of celebrations to be had! In Toronto this 420 come on down to light up Dundas Square to protest prohibition. CSSDP will be sharing a booth with CannDo Toronto, and will also be speaking on stage at 3:45pm with Trip! Project! Things will be just as big at the Vancouver Art Gallery where we will be sharing a booth with the BeKind dispensary, as well as boothing it up in Montreal. We will be selling our famous t-shirts, handing out rolling trays and providing educational information on everything from harm reduction to drug policy reform! In Ottawa there is a huge national rally to Fill the Hill, and we will have a CSSDP street team recruiting for our newly forming chapter.
Pretty much any major city in Canada, has something going on to celebrate 420. Smaller towns are also celebrating, and the movement is growing with over 41 rallies confirmed this year. Get yourself to the closest rally by searching the 420 Rally website by province to see what’s going down locally. Even if you aren’t close to a major city centre, you can still celebrate in your own way by getting together with friends and family and sharing cannabis. You don’t have to be at a huge march to celebrate the successes of the cannabis movement! Whatever you do to celebrate, blog it, tweet it and share your experience through social media to get the word out. Prohibition of cannabis is failing worldwide, and it’s high time that we legalize and regulate it.
OTTAWA, April 16th, 2015 – On Monday across the nation, Canadians from 41 communities are boldly showing their pride as cannabis consumers by publicly demonstrating the prohibition of cannabis, colloquially known as 420. Hundreds of thousands are expected to participate. While recreational cannabis is not yet legal in Canada, de facto legalization is taking place in many Canadian cities. From Vancouver’s cannabis dispensaries to Toronto’s vapor lounges, Canada finds itself on the world map as an epicentre of cannabis culture.
“Cannabis in Canada polls much higher than our political party leaders do currently,” emphasizes Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy Outreach Director Lisa Campbell. “In Canada, more young people use cannabis than any other country globally, although use is in decline. As opposed to criminalizing youth, it’s time to legalize and regulate cannabis and invest in health services like drug prevention, treatment and harm reduction.”
According to several public opinion polls conducted by Forum Research and Ipsos Reid, over 60% of Canadians agree on loosening cannabis laws. This growing national consensus towards loosening marijuana laws is currently more popular than any federal party and sends a clear message that the Canadian people consider this an election issue. While the Liberals and NDP have indicated support for cannabis reform if elected, the Conservatives continue to support criminalization.
The hundreds of thousands of Canadian youth from coast to coast to coast who are proudly and defiantly consuming cannabis is indicative of the growing global movement for legalization. With Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Netherlands and Uruguay now allowing the legal sale of cannabis, Canada now has many models of regulation to consider. Last year the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto came out in support of cannabis legalization with stiff government regulation as a means to tangibly reduce drug abuse and improve public health.
The prohibition of cannabis results in the imprisonment of over 60,000 Canadians a year; currently over 500,000 Canadians hold criminal records related to cannabis. Monday’s smoky gathering demonstrates that many Canadians have recognized the positive social, judicial, and economic potential that cannabis legalization will have for our nation.
Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is a grassroots network comprised of youth and students who are concerned about the negative impact our drug policies have on individuals and communities. CSSDP considers problematic drug use in society primarily a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, and advocates for appropriate responses to reduce and prevent harm from drug use.