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Canada to introduce legislation to legalize recreational cannabis (theguardian.com)
458 points by sasvari on Apr 20, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 210 comments

Canadian News Source http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/philpott-un-marijuana-legisl...

I love that they picked this day to make an announcement.

It can't be a coincidence. I hope they pass the bill next year on this day. I'll be booking work off and heading to the Art Gallery for that one.

They didn't pick the day because of 4/20 they picked it because of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, where multiple countries raised complaints about the current state of prohibition and Canada went one step further by announcing this to the other nations.

> the Art Gallery

For those who don't get the reference - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNX2X9nXyIo

One thing that I am disappointed in is that I wish the Liberal government first decriminalized marijuana.

For one thing, decriminalization is easy to do. Simply revoke the current criminal laws. The bill would be passed quite quickly. Which would then buy time to figure out a bill for legalization.

Why is this important? Despite popular belief, simple possession laws ARE upheld in Canada, but the people charged are disproportionately minorities and poor/homeless people. IIRC, there were 40 000+ criminal charges for simple possession last year in Canada. That means thousands of citizens who are now burdened with a criminal record, making job searches difficult and border crossings into the US.

So while laws for legalizing pot are getting figured out in Parliament, more people keep getting locked up for simple possession.

  >For one thing, decriminalization is easy to do. 
Decriminalization is a bad idea. It increases demand, which gives gangs and mafia types more money. If you're going to do it, legalize it.

The Portuguese case study says that it's really not a bad idea (though not referring specifically the increasing or diminishing illegal business, just less "street value") [1][2]. But I agree with your corollary.

[1] https://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/DPA_Fact_Shee...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Portugal#Observ...

Well, even if it doesn't change much, you're still stuck with the absolute worst part of drug prohibition – unregulated and unclean drugs, turf wars and violence, and hundreds of thousands of murders in less fortunate countries.

I find decriminalisation to be a pretty egoistic way around the problem. Sure, it makes lives better for people at home, but it completely ignores the massive amount of suffering countries (including Canada) has brought on supply and transit countries.

I can't see that being an option in the case of heroin or meth.

It makes sense to decriminalize users/addicts because they are the victims whom drug legislation is supposed to protect in the first place.

But to me it makes no sense to allow anyone to profit from a substance that causes this much harm.

> But to me it makes no sense to allow anyone to profit from a substance that causes this much harm.

It's possible to use heroin daily for the remainder of your life and have a better health outcome than a cigarette smoker.

The drug war makes heroin use more dangerous. Now you have dirty needles, cut drugs, highly inconsistent doses, lack of free treatment/therapy, fear of police and the legal system that leads to reluctance to seek medical attention, etc. And of course black market violence still exists here and abroad.

"Like most opioids, unadulterated heroin does not cause many long-term complications other than dependence and constipation."


Switzerland had success with the heroin problem. They've made it legal and free, but to get it free, you need to visit a hospital for your daily injection, where they also can give you psychological help.

The program seems to have been a success, destroying the market for illegal heroin, and also reducing demand because it gives the drug a perception of being for losers.

How did they manage it in the 30s (or whenever depending on your nationality)? Are you absolutely certain that criminalization wasn't an overreaction to a problem that after all wasn't all that big?

If you've got a free hour-or-so sometime this BBC documentary is pretty engaging and describes the opiate timeline regarding use and legal status: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3M1QPoeNMU

In fact it still isn't that big.

>An estimated 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin.

That's an insignificant number compared to the global population and all the harm the BS cat/mouse game with mafia and police has caused.

Short answer: They didn't.

Back then lives were being ruined as well. And the availability and affordability of dangerous drugs has only increased since then.

People just didn't make such a "fuss" of addiction, and especially in the case of poorer people, nobody really cared.

>People just didn't make such a "fuss" of addiction

So why should we make a fuss out of it today?

>and especially in the case of poorer people, nobody really cared.

Whereas now they do?

Is a case of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"

Despite popular belief, simple possession laws ARE upheld in Canada, but the people charged are disproportionately minorities and poor/homeless people.

It's quite likely that those are compound charges, meaning possession is not the only charge, i.e. they are arrested for something else, then found to be in possession.

So they are charged disproportionately because they commit crimes disproportionately,[0] and some of them happen to have a bag in their pocket while doing so.

[0]Aboriginal and black Canadians are grossly overrepresented in Canada’s correctional institutions


This paper is itself biased against Ockham's Razor, they hit on some truth here, We cannot discount, however, the probability that increased rates of offending among certain racialized groups contributes to their overrepresentation in correctional statistics. but then spend the whole paper trying to hand wave it away.

Not sure about Canada, but the whole story usually is that people with lower social class/backgrounds commit crimes more often, and that aboriginals/black people/foreigners/... etc are overrepresented in that group. Once you control for social status, there is no difference between white or non-white populations.

Can I get a link to something that confirms this? I'd like to be able to use this point in conversation.

In the US there are groups of poor whites and poor blacks, the crime rates are not the same, they exhibit stark differences.

What if you account for rural/urban populations? Population density always has an effect on crime rate

I'm sure somebody's tried it. But the differences are so large that no amount of statistical trickery is going to be able to make them go away.


One must also consider that it isn't the density per se, but the populations. For example, you could compare two equally dense areas but made up of different population groups. You would find a difference.

The problem here is knowing what really is the cause and what is the effect.

It is well known that, in the United States, drug usage between all races tends to trend roughly the same. However, the arrest rate for blacks is much, much higher. See these charts for marijuana.


One possible explanation, of course, is indeed that blacks are more likely to be arrested while committing another serious crime. Hence the gap.

An alternate explanation reverses the argument: blacks may be more prone to commit serious crimes because they are more likely to be arrested for trivial crimes like marijuana usage. Prison does have social consequences after all (eg, people are less willing to hire someone with an arrest record; prison can establish contacts with underground economies that are more likely to utilize violence to settle disputes; prison can tear apart families; etc. -- http://www.economist.com/node/708550 ) and since America is not keen on reintegrating criminals into society (a very high rate of recidivism compared to most countries -- http://www.salve.edu/sites/default/files/filesfield/document... and http://www.businessinsider.com/why-norways-prison-system-is-... ), it is very possible that early arrests for modest crimes lead to later arrests for worse crimes later.

isn't infowars a crackpot site?

It's not a site I frequent, I think it may have a bit of that brand image, but not like ufo bigfoot or whatever crackpot levels.

That article is just a simple and clear telling of sourced facts that came up when I was searching for some facts.

What crackpot level is wearing an alien lizard mask while ranting about Obamacare?

level 9


Everyone's entitled to their own crackpots, but not their own facts.

What is often missed in these statistics is that 90% of the homicides committed by black citizens are committed against black citizens, so it's not surprising that blacks are overrepresented in homicide statistics since they are overrepresented in poor income neighborhoods where all the problems inherent to poverty exacerbate the cycle of violence.

Controlling for poverty does not remove the effect where blacks commit more crime than whites.

> As a means to assess these possibilities, I estimate separate regression equations for the black and white block groups in Atlanta. [...] Consistent with previous research, percent black retains a strong, significant effect on violent crime net of the effects of other controls. [...] Although this finding appears to provide partial support for the racial invariance assumption, the fact remains that for a large proportion of the black neighborhoods, the effect of disadvantage on violence is weaker than is the effect evident among all of the white neighborhoods in the analysis


More white people than black live in poverty, yet blacks commit crime at far higher rates. For statistics see FBI and DOJ crime data:




This topic could use more good science and research.

> More white people than black live in poverty, yet blacks commit crime at far higher rates. For statistics see FBI and DOJ crime data:

1 in 10 whites live in poverty compared to 1 in 4 blacks so it's not true that more whites live in poverty (unless you're talking about absolute numbers, which doesn't tell us anything meaningful in a comparison to the black crime rate).


> Discrimination appears to be indirect, stemming from the amplification of initial disadvantages over time, along with the social construction of "moral panics" and associated political responses. The "drug war" of the 1980s and 1990s exacerbated the disproportionate representation of blacks in state and federal prisons

> Blacks, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, suffer much higher rates of robbery and homicide victimization than do whites. Homicide is the leading cause of death among young black males and females. These differences result in part from social forces that ecologically concentrate race with poverty and other social dislocations.

I agree that the topic could use more good science and research.

So poor blacks kill each other in huge numbers, and poor whites don't. What's your point exactly?

Also, maybe you missed the black on white numbers which are off the charts compared to the inverse.

> So poor blacks kill each other in huge numbers, and poor whites don't. What's your point exactly?

90% of black murder victims are killed by black perpetrators, 84% of white murder victims are killed by white perpetrators, so I'm not sure why you suggested that poor white people don't kill each other. My point is that the higher black on black homicide rate is what we'd expect to see for a population that is disproportionately concentrated into densely populated low income regions, which will push up their representation in overall homicide stats.

> Also, maybe you missed the black on white numbers which are off the charts compared to the inverse

What exactly does off the charts mean?

13.6% of white murders are committed by black people, 7.6% of black murders are committed by white people, so yes, blacks murder whites at a higher rate, that is clear, but what is your point?

A little "politically incorrect" related video:


Yah, but if you decriminalize possession it's a boon for the (still) illegal dealers and distributors. Is there any credible data to discredit my take on this?

If we have to keep putting civilians in jail so that criminals don't benefit for a brief time, I think that thought should be rethunk.

Well, as I mention in another comment [0], I'm uncertain as to whether the prospective bill will actually pass, and thus the "interim" situation could become the ongoing status quo. Additionally, such a situation would also include all the geopolitical risks I mention in that other comment, too, and could thus put the Canadian economy in peril.

I'm a supporter of legalization, but I think half-measures can lead to avoidable, unforeseen negative consequences.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11538708

That is why I favor legalization over decriminalization. It looks like the Canadian PM has thought this through, though, so I don't expect problems like that.

In the article he specifically said he wants to keep criminals from profiting from sales.

Do you think decriminalizing for possessing a small amount in the interim would still fuel crime?

Well, 10 grams isn't that small (though certainly not large), and retails for about 100 CAD. So, if people become more likely to smoke up once it's decriminalized, then it would seem to me that it would provide a windfall for the sellers, distributors, and producers. I have no hard evidence to support this belief - it's just a supposition that seems to me to be reasonable and logical.

In Australia "the Victorian government, is introducing laws in December to allow families access to medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances. "

You have to be genuinely, deeply sick in Australia to be allowed to puff a joint. It's like living in the 1950's. So strange that Australia follows the world so quickly towards becoming more conservative and is so incredibly slow to become less conservative, even when our cultural leader, the U.S.A. is headed that way.


Sweden is regularly prosecuting and convicting elderly people who buy or grow, and use, to ease their pains and medical conditions. No consideration is taken for the very sick, or their stories about how it allows them to live a decent life.

Then again, with politicians like these: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/07/sweden-justice-...

Yeah, she is clearly not intelligent like most ruling politicians in Sweden right now.

Like Bill Hicks said: "Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally on our planet, serves a thousand different functions, all of them positive. To make marijuana against the law is like saying that God made a mistake."[1]

I'm not huge in to this 'God' person, so replace 'God' with whatever is in fashion this week, the point stands.

It's wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Harm reduction, we do it with alcohol. That's the solution. Make it a good drug, like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. By 'good' I mean 'taxed'.

1. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Hicks

As much as I am in favour of legalising and controlling drugs (as opposed to the current system) that is a horrible argument that Bill Hicks uses - opiates are legal however I firmly remain of the opinion that allowing recreational opiate use would be a terrible thing

I disagree with your phrasing but probably not with what you are meaning to say.

Substance abuse should not be illegal. Substance abuse is not a crime. Addiction is a mental health issue and addicts need to be treated as mentally unwell, not as criminals.

Ultimately some substances should be controlled (rather than simply banned) but it's important not to criminalize their (ab)use.

Even heroine is not worse than alcohol if one accounts for the total cost for society. For example, under alcohol one is much more likely to harm or kill another person than under opiats. So continuing to profit from sales of alcohol while making opiat use criminal is hypocrisy.

You may be roughly in the ballpark with what you are saying but you are in my opinion misconstruing the biggest part of this, and where my opinion stems from:

The damage caused per life affected is so unbelievably massive. Alcohol affects millions of lives to some small degree. Heroin affects a small number of lives to an unimaginable degree.

The WHO has a statistic on DALYs lost to etoh vs opiates and no doubt etoh causes a lot of early death and disability. However it is also the only restricted substance on the list that has a positive contribution to DALYs as well (through the beneficial effects of alcohol).

Apologies for not bringing up the source as I am on mobile and I last saw this slide in Med school

We can control and regulate the use of these things. In Australia a licence is required to operate a still, and excise is payable on distilled beverages[1]. We could have similar legislation in place for marijuana and opium and ephedra and mushrooms where you are allowed to possess not more than some specific quantity or not allowed to posses certain extracts / concentrations.

Speaking from personal experience it is conceivable that some people could responsibly use opium (and its derivatives) recreationally.

I mean, a person can go to a liquor store and buy more than enough alcohol to kill themselves and their football team, but we allow that because we recognise most people consume in moderation / act responsibly.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_Australia

I disagree about people being able to manage opiates responsibly.

Yes I have read the rolling stone or NYT articles describing people who hold down regular jobs and hit heroin once a day, and have done that for years. But what a fucked up life. You think they're doing that for fun?

Read my above comment regarding the methadone program. Look into the root of the problem. Opiates cannot be responsibly managed by the masses (OK, there's a reasonable argument to be made that either can alcohol).

I personally know 2 people who got sucked down the drain with opiates, and i am a white upper middle class Australian - these two guys were as well; one was a medical school buddy who has recently blown his license because of it despite being one of the most intelligent guys in my grade, the other was a guy I went to school with, the same thing, a pure genius, and he is dead.

Now every drug you take has a certain chance of causing addiction. Some people taste alcohol once and loose control. Some people get addicted to smoking. and some people will try heroin once and decide it's not for them, and get on with their lives. But do you know who are the ones who won't be able to stop? And when the consequences of getting addicted are literally flushing your entire life down the toilet, how can we as a society condone a section of ourselves to play this lottery?

Why would recreational opiate use be a terrible thing?

Would the world not be a better place if recreational crystal methamphetamine users had the option of legal recreational opiates (of known strength) instead?

I have worked in addiction services.

The fact of opiate abuse and addiction is that people almost never kick it.

The rate of methadone program increase in Australia is 5% a year at present. But heroin usage plateaued years ago.

Some small percentage of this increase is crossover from prescription opiates to methadone.

The increase comes entirely from new addicts who completely destroy their lives getting to the point where they decide to get in the program, and then never get off it.

You show me more than 5 examples of people who have successfully recovered from methadone and rebuilt successful lives in the whole of Sydney and I will eat my hat

It's decriminalised in SA, but they always change the bloody number of plants that are considered a commercial quantity. I don't think anyone gives a shit anyway, everyone here in Adelaide is puffing away anyway.

California started off that way, and now you can get your marijuana rec online. Medical marijuana is always the first step to more widespread acceptance.

Would you say it's a... gateway drug?


Although it's not legal in Vic, unless you're caught with a substantial amount or dealing then it's not really an issue for casual smokers. Enforcement is generally pretty lax.

Right, unless you happen to be a casual smoker who has the wrong color skin, or hurts a police officer's feelings, or criticizes a government official, etc.

The first one is definitely an issue, because then discriminatory bias governs what happens to the people caught in that gray area. That sucks, hard.

But for the other two? If you're smoking pot illegally and decide to be a jerk to the police... I'm not entirely sure I'd be sympathetic. They don't have to arrest you, but you don't have to be mean to them.

How does this effect the supply chain? Let me re-phrase that, are we still criminalizing the supply side? If so, we're just exporting our violence south of the USA border.

No, they have promised legalization. However there's virtually no chance of this being a free-for-all.

What I expect the main features to be:

- Certified and regulated producers, though not numerically limited

- heavily-taxed.

- no problems growing your own.

- retail distribution depends on province. More liberal in BC, government-run in Ontario.

- separate certifications for places "serving" (ie, pot cafes). Can't take it home with you.

We'll have to see whether grow-at-home will be permitted. Here in Canada it is illegal to operate a spirits distillery in your home. I wouldn't be surprised if it is not legalized, as it opens up avenues for "criminal selling", ie: people growing at home and selling it - bypassing taxation. And, let's be honest, government revenue from taxation is the real reason legalization is even on the table.

It doesn't matter how grow-at-home laws will be written. There will always be those people who will exceed the "personal plants limit" to grow and sell to friends / the street. Especially if legally obtainable strains wind up being very limited, or if the tax is too expensive.

The whole system including strain restrictions and pricing (+ taxation) is going to be interesting to watch unfold. If officials think that your average daily consumers - not the new people who will toke once legal, but those who already consume daily - are going to tolerate an increase of any amount for the product... enjoy the black market that will continue to proliferate.

I do love the lackluster "legalization will keep weed out of kids' hands!" How exactly does that way of thinking even begin to work? ;)

Here in British Columbia my friends who smoke prefer going to the dispensaries that have opened over their old local drug dealer. It is more convenient to go to a store with regular hours than to arrange a meeting. They also get to choose exactly which strains they are buying instead of having to take what is available. I think it is going to be very difficult to earn a decent income only selling weed.

Edit; there was a house worth 1.5 million for sale nearby, a beautiful custom home on a big lot, for sale for 400,000 because it had a grow op which is the same as a meth lab in the eyes of the law. No bank will lend on the property, the occupancy permit for the house is revoked, and the soil is considered contaminated until proven otherwise. All for a bunch of plants! Many laws and regulations will have to catch up for people to be able to legally grow at home with no repercussions.

I was of the understanding that the problem with grow-op houses is they're often riddled with mould and have unsafe electrical modifications:


A friend wanted to buy the ex grow op house and he couldn't find a way to ever get a mortgage on it. And he works at a bank selling mortgages. So while some houses may be trashed by grow ops they are all assumed to be trashed and there is no way to remove the black mark from the property.

Shouldn't that drop the price until someone can buy it outright? You know, supply and demand? What's keeping the price up? Is the previous owner unwilling to sell so low?

the 1.5 million dollar house was for sale for 400,000. I'd say the price did drop. The bank had taken the house back from the owner because he was so far underwater on it and it was the bank selling it at 400,000.

very true... im from BC too.

i use to pickup on the street but got annoyed with having to arrange a meetup with a dealer/supplier, the dispensary is much more convenient. dont have to wait on anyone, the businesses are open at set times with a large variety.

definately paying more for the convenience and consistency. i use to pay 160-200$ CAD an ounce on the street (5$-7$/gram).

at the dispensary i rarely pickup below $10/gram strains. more recently i have been getting $12-13/gram strains, but thats where i draw the limit. there are $15+/gram strains popping up at dispensaries that i dont think are worth it.

if you are a heavy consumer... it will hit you hard in the pocket book making the transition. i was spending on average $1000+ a month (#1 customer at 4000+ member dispensary) till i made some life decisions.

i partake, but maybe <$100/month i spend now (i prefer it more than alcohol).

as per the supply chain, most are illegal drug suppliers legitimatizing their business into legal/license distributors (using illegal funds to build multi-million dollar govt approved factories for growing and selling to licensed shops and USA).

as per the in-home growing or GrowOp houses... cant believe some people still make a mess with wiring, smell, mold etc.. this was common 10+ years ago... but nowadays its hard to have problems like this.

LED lights + smell proof rooms + good ventillation + air filters to mask smell, its very hard to get caught... and you dont have to do any damage (ran high pressure aeroponics setup that vented out of top of house, was in a enclosed smellproof 8x10 closet space). you can run a very good "clean" setup for a few hundred dollars.

anyways, anything is good in moderation... overdoing it can lead to risks. from the amount i use to smoke compared to now, i feel i have less anxiety when not high in stressfull situations and able to cope better (giving me less reasons to smoke up)

> If officials think that your average daily consumers - not the new people who will toke once legal, but those who already consume daily - are going to tolerate an increase of any amount for the product... enjoy the black market that will continue to proliferate.

I'm sure most people will pay more for better quality, same way I buy wine from LCBO instead of fermenting it myself in plastic barrels (which I could totally do for 1/10 the price).

I live in Colorado, and thought it was going to be the same way for myself and for the general public.

However, over the past year or so I've found it more convenient to visit a store than my "guy". There's a store within walking distance to my home, predictable hours, regular sales and loyalty programs.

All in all, I'm happy to pay more for those things. Many feel the same.

Yes, the black market will still exist- but I think you'll see more local growers fueling the market than south of the border cartels.

> Here in Canada it is illegal to operate a spirits distillery in your home. I wouldn't be surprised if it is not legalized, as it opens up avenues for "criminal selling", ie: people growing at home and selling it - bypassing taxation.

Stills are also very dangerous which is a good enough reason to keep them out of homes. Your pot plant isn't going to explode as a high pressure fireball.

Personal wine production is also regulated. There are limits on quantities, you can't sell it, restrictions on serving it at functions, etc.

In other words, regulated in a way that is very close to how alcohol is currently sold in Ontario.

The key difference is that quality marijuana can be grown indoors for personal consumption, whereas it's very difficult to make a quality whiskey or beer by comparison.

So I'm curious what effect this will have on prices. Because if pricing is anything like alcohol in Ontario then there will still be a lively black market and, if legalized, a personal-growing boom.

In Ontario alcohol can only be bought at two government run retail stores called LCBO and "The Beer Store" at much higher prices than the US and even Montreal. Unlike in some other provinces you can't walk into a grocery or corner store, you have to go to the predefined locations of the alcohol stores, which typically close at 9pm, making it harder to get alcohol. Especially if you don't drive.

I hope they don't make the same mistake with weed, because the market dynamics are different.

quality marijuana.

Quality would definitely be the main difference. Although I have friends that have made decent wine and beer themselves.

The bar is much for wine/beer higher than weed in terms of quality. And whiskey/rum/voldka is not even an option. This is largely due to gains in technology due to hydroponics and decades of seed cultivation.

That plus the extend time weed has been on the black market made the information on how to grow it widely available to average consumers. No trade secrets there really.

Speaking as someone with experience and friends who do both I can assure you it's far easier to make quality beer than it is to learn all the ins and outs of growing quality cannabis. You have it exactly backwards.

Is potency a significant portion of "quality", in which case you could just smoke twice as much? Or is the effects different if you don't do it properly?

> "The key difference is that quality marijuana can be grown indoors for personal consumption, whereas it's very difficult to make a quality whiskey or beer by comparison."

wat? my friend, i fear you have overlooked modern homebrewing; world-class beer is being made in peoples' kitchens / basements / garages all over the place. :)

It's not impossible. Just harder.

...I'd prefer my neighbors not to stink up the whole building with their skunk stench.

Which is a separate issue. I prefer my neighbors not to stink up the whole building by [cooking smelly food|smearing shit on their walls|...], but that shouldn't make it illegal.

The housing association/board (or whatever the proper english term is) might have something to say though.

> I prefer my neighbors not to stink up the whole building by [cooking smelly food|smearing shit on their walls|...], but that shouldn't make it illegal.

This example could have been chosen better. While you're correct that your dislike of the smell isn't, in the absence of other facts, a great reason for criminalizing your neighbors smearing shit on their walls, that is in fact illegal, it is illegal for very good reasons, and you dislike the smell for the same reasons doing it is illegal. In that case, the smell is actually telling you something important.

I think we have more of a "this has to be allowed" exception for cooking food than we have a general policy of "we won't take smells into account when deciding what's allowed".

Me too, to be honest, but I'd also prefer them not to go to jail for it.

There are plenty of commercial grade filters available for just about any space. Perhaps your HOA/apartment complex could form regulations around ventilation, filtration, waste disposal, etc..

I live in a triplex from 1910. My 'ventilation' is opening the front and back balcony door. The outside air often stinks like skunk. It's actually pretty nauseating.

My apologies, I wasn't clear on that.

I meant that regulations could be enacted for those cultivating marijuana in their home, requiring proper ventilation and filtration.

Nobody wants to smell skunk all the time.

The pot-smokers tend to be neither the very regulation following kind of people, nor the kind of people who have the money for this stuff, nor people who are actually considerate enough of other people. For example, a vaporizer helps with smell, and that's a very cheap solution, but apparently rolling it so much more fun.

Based on the following quote:

> “We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals,”

It sounds like they plan on legitimizing the whole thing.

Legalizing sale and taxation through govt supported venues, much like how alcohol is sold in Canada. Still illegal to sell it as an individual without a permit from the govt, as is the case with alcohol in Canada.

Alcohol sales (and drinking age) vary across provinces - I don't think any will let you sell your homemade liquor, but Ontario is very restrictive, while Quebec (for example) is relatively relaxed.

We've truly legitimized, if not quite yet legalized, when we're applying biz jargon like "supply chain" to dope.

I'll just send My Man an application to the INSEAD MBA programme....

I don't know about the Canadian proposal, but in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, all recreational sales go through a government controlled agricultural pipeline (not Mexico).

Very big hiccup that this policy might possibly run up against: the American border. Given the 280,326,500,000 USD in exports that Canada sends to the US [0], even a minor disruption at the border could wreak devastation on Canada's economy. If an American administration even hinted at an increase in border wait times due to newly enhanced searches as a result of legalization, any Canadian federal government would have to think very hard about the pros vs the cons of legalizing pot.

[0] http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c1220.html#2015

What you say is true, though it would be a sad day when the future of what Canadians want Canada to be is limited by the financial pressure of another country.

Of course, to prevent this problem, Canada could just hint at slowing down or limiting the 12410000000 barrels of oil it exports to the USA [1]

(see, two can play that game, and nobody wins)

[1] http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/canadian-oil-e...

Agreed that nobody wins in a trade war, though, the threat of limiting the oil flowing south isn't very credible. Canada is already hemorrhaging money due to the downturn in oil pricing and the subsequent devaluing of the Loonie. Also, Canada doesn't really have any other options of where to send the oil, as thanks to a variety of political actors, Canada hasn't been able to build a pipeline to the west coast to move the oil overseas to places like China. Lastly, I don't even think that the Canadian federal government could reduce the flow of oil, as the sector is in private hands. I suppose something might be able to be done with cross-border rail movement, but I'm not sure. Regardless, it would be cutting the nose to spite the face, so the point is pretty well moot.

As for the ability of Canadians to create their own policies of self-government solely on internal politics without regard for geopolitical implications, I'm not going to pout over it. Geopolitics and international relations effect the internal politics of every country, and American concerns are not without merit.

If a Democrat wins the WH, I'd be surprised if that threat were levied, as it would anger much of the Democratic base. However, who knows what the future will hold. Law enforcement agencies certainly hold a great deal of policy sway in the US (as in most countries), and my take is that they're more anti-legalization than the average American voter and politician.

>What you say is true, though it would be a sad day when the future of what Canadians want Canada to be is limited by the financial pressure of another country.

That day happened like 50 years ago and has been that way ever since. As much as Canadians define themselves by being "not Americans", we're very heavily influenced by the US.

Great username.

Glad to see this is full legalization being proposed.

Decriminalization is of little use to the chronically uncool.

the chronically uncool

As in, warm-blooded animals?

> the chronically uncool.

Such as politicians? Or basically most people living in Ottawa?

Sure. I suspect there's a lot of people in Ottawa who'd enjoy the occasional joint, but don't know where to get it.

As for politicians... well, my impression is that they prefer crack.

Does smoking pot make you cool?

No, the contrapositive. Being cool helps you access the trust networks through which illegal supply flows.

I've never learned what contrapositive meant. Thank you for your casual use of it -- it inspired me to learn the concept. What a useful word!

The contrapositive in this case being: "Not being cool means you do not smoke pot", which as you explain seems like a reasonable assertion.

Not in my experience...it's just a matter of knowing where to look.

Not that I'm really interested in smoking pot any more. It's a bit too uncool and boring.

Bully for you. Not all of us are down to hang out with old hippies, just to purchase some weed. I'd rather have Amazon ship it.

With Prime Same-Day by drone!

(And more seriously, from a reputable and regulated supplier)

>> Does smoking pot make you cool?

> No, the contrapositive.

The first thing you're ever taught about the contrapositive, generally at the same time the name is taught, is that a statement is exactly equivalent to its contrapositive.

In boolean logic, when the law of the excluded middle holds. The theorem you're trying to use is manifestly inapplicable.

You're confused.

For one thing, the law of the excluded middle holds here just as it holds everywhere else. You've got two options:

- Smoking pot makes you cool.

- Smoking pot does not make you cool.

Those cover all cases.

But, the point I'm making is that you are incorrect to label "being cool helps you access pot" as "the contrapositive" of "smoking pot makes you cool". The concept of a contrapositive does not apply to "smoking pot makes you cool", because it is not a conditional statement.

If you want to cast the idea you're supporting as a conditional statement, you have "if you're not cool, you don't smoke pot". This actually has a contrapositive, "if you smoke pot, you're cool", and it is the same idea.

I don't believe that innovative misuse of specialized technical terms is actually a good idea. When the word you'd really like to use doesn't mean what you want it to mean, suck it up and use some different words.

The symbols above? They're English sentences, and they're perfectly clear in context. You're making a category error by trying to treat them as logical propositions, and it's leading you to waste your time on pedantry.

All right. Why do you choose to call "being cool gets you access to pot" the "contrapositive" of "smoking pot makes you cool"? What is the benefit of using a term from an unrelated area which means something different than what you mean? Why is it a category error for me to treat you as talking about logic when you use a term which is restricted to formal logic?

I kind of wanted to downvote you for such a dumb post, but whatever let's leave it in your post history. Breaking the law (when you disagree with it) doesn't make you cool. Being cool makes you cool.

I agree with the change in this law, as a non consumer who has tried it in the past, but let's not draw a stupid line between those who partake and those who don't.

No. Arguing about what cool is makes you cool.

I'm curious if all those decriminalizations and legalizations in various states & countries are having an impact on Netherlands' tourism.

I wouldn't be surprised if it had close to zero impact. As much as people like to talk about Amsterdam's legal marijuana laws, I'm skeptical many people visited that country only because of that. Marijuana isn't exactly hard to get and smoke in private in the places these laws are being enacted in.

"Marijuana" isn't one thing. Dutch coffeeshops are fairly unique in their offering a tasting menu of dozens of varieties of marijuana.

But yes, the actual number of cannabis connoisseur tourists is tiny.

>"Marijuana" isn't one thing. Dutch coffeeshops are fairly unique in their offering a tasting menu of dozens of varieties of marijuana.

Hardly unique and recently greatly outshone by the offerings in states in the US where it's legal.

Unless the country is very close to the Netherlands, I doubt it will have much effect.

If someone is willing to spend thousands of dollars to travel to the Netherlands because of marijuana, they are probably pretty into marijuana, and if they are that into it, they are probably using it in their home country anyway, despite it being illegal.

The legal barriers are not hard to work around, and in almost every country it would be easier to get illegal marijuana locally than to arrange travel to the Netherlands.

Intuitively one might think so, but in practice the drug tourism money isn't as important as you would think. I would even go so far as to say that legalizing prostitution in other countries wouldn't impact the Netherlands' tourism much either.

It's mostly just part of the country's (and Amsterdam's in particular) reputation. Let's put it this way: you can legally obtain cheese and wine in most parts of the world -- even French cheese and wine -- but that doesn't stop people from associating France with cheese and wine (whether when in France they actually consume it or not).

Many Dutch cities take active measures against drug tourists. They are not a profitable or desirable crowd. Besides, most drug tourism is and always has been from countries where drugs laws are still (relatively) strict.

Ah yes, the wietpas, a mandatory coffee shop membership card only available for residents and with a hard limit of 2000 members. When this government sanctioned system was put into play, the streets of Maastricht suddenly had plenty of aggressive pushers overnight, with no "brand" quality, health information or age checks, and plenty of nuisance in the streets.

It was so bad that the mayor of Amsterdam noped out of introducing it, together with most mayors in towns that doesn't kiss a border. I believe most, if not all coffee shops in the Randstad area (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht) are still welcoming any adults into their coffee shops.

Yes, the coffee shops do, and I'm not arguing that the residency-requirement wasn't (and isn't) a stupid idea. My point is that drug tourism isn't a net positive for the broader Dutch economy. Again, I'm not saying that that means it should be discouraged, but the GP seemed to imply that somehow more liberal drug laws elsewhere are a negative for the Netherlands - which it isn't.

Excellent point...

Probably now Trump wants to build a wall at the border to Canada too.


How do they get out of this? I've read that this is a big holdup in US federal drug law reform.

UN is meeting one of the next couple of months to hopefully start to get rid of all that idiocy. Hard to justify the US's position now with 4 states and DC legalizing it and many countries have been waiting some time to get rid of these stupid treaties and the war on drugs that's literally killing some of them as we speak.

>> "UN is meeting one of the next couple of months to hopefully start to get rid of all that idiocy"

I think that meeting it yesterday, today, and tomorrow - hence the timing of this announcement.

Not only is it this week, but we already know that the outcome document is not going to see any real change to the current state of prohibition - the only sign of progress was a number of countries saying they want to explore different approaches and Canada saying they'll be doing this anyway.

I'd say that is real progress. Canada going ahead with it despite the treaty is a big "FUCK YOU" to the treaty, the US, and all the horrible shit the treaty stands for, shit the US forced down the throats of the world like everything else.

It's not a big fuck you to the US given the US already has plenty of places with legal weed and their logic is "we're not technically breaking the UN treaty because it's the states not the federal government allowing weed". US may be responsible for the treaty but they're not exactly its biggest supporter now.

I think the trick that the US uses is that: the federal government is complying by outlawing it, even if individual member states legalize it.

So basically a country can pull out of a bad treaty and all they're going to get is some strongly worded letters?

Hopefully once Canada and others defy these terrible agreements, poorer countries will realise they have a lot to gain by ignoring them, too.

These things are never so simple. If a country pulls this sort of thing too often, then negotiations with other nations (especially the one whose treaty you pulled out of) will necessarily be much less willing to negotiate new treaties with them.

Treaties are more than just trade, they also signify a strong relationship between nations because the nations who negotiate treaties are signalling that they are willing to cooperate in a constructive fashion with that other nation, and that they want to maintain a peaceful relationship with the other nation.

It is far, far better never to sign up to a treaty that is "bad" (normally a power imbalance) than it is to sign up to one, and then pull out of it.

Well hopefully people notice that the narcotics treaties really just damage poorer countries and don't end up "fighting drugs" anyways.

It's sad to see these made up "crimes" of drug selling and money "laundering", as they do suck up budgets, efforts, and lives in third world countries. One might be cubical enough to think e.g. the US loves this as a way to keep, say, Central America, under control.

I'm not saying they are good, only that it's better never to sign a treaty like this in the first place.

You can't retroactively have not signed a treaty, though. Your analysis doesn't address the question of "OK, we're in a bad spot, what do we do?", which is the question facing parties to the Convention.

Yup, diabolical isn't it?

There are two choices, break the contract and risk the consequences, or live with the bad treaty.

It's only a holdup if the government wants it to be a holdup.

Is there any study on the reduction of young consumers (rebel/taboo incentives) and reclaimed resources for police forces (less time dealing with petty to medium weed issues) ?

I haven't seen any yet, but Colorado is being studied very closely.

Perhaps it's now time to look at investing in some of the existing Canadian medicinal cannabis producers. Like cannabis or not, it's here to stay and becoming more legitimized with each passing day. The question is, who's going to supply it? It's going to be regulated and knowing Canada, it will be regulated thoroughly.

There is nothing great about smoking weed but something seriously bad about jailing people for smoking, possessing or growing. That is the reason why I support marijuana legalization but I dont think Canada wants to decriminalize Marijuana.

It has been legal in Oregon since last summer. Walking the streets of downtown Portland you wouldn't know the law changed. Really, there is absolutely zero difference that I can see.

what about Canada's responsibilities under certain international treaties to prohibit the production and supply of drugs?

Who cares about treaties which the US bullied everyone to sign.

ehhh, most of the UN wants to really talk about a different approach than prohibition, historically it's been Russia, China, a few smaller countries and the US that has taken a hardline on it. Now the US is starting to back away. Will be interesting to see if anything new comes out of hte next UN drugs summit.

UK is probably going to keep a hardline on it. Government shuts down any potential discussions on it here.

Complete nonsense. The British government does not shut down discussion whether potential or actual.

Screw the treaties.

Other news sources[1] are reporting it as "legalize", not decriminalize.


It will be legalize, not decriminalize. The party has majority, they could have passed a decrim on day one. They have no intent of decriminalizing.

No, they could not pass it on day one. Getting legislation together like this takes support building in other areas of government, and getting it right so it isn't toppled because of flawed wording takes crafting. They need to bring people on board and do it well or it falls apart. It takes time.

You're confusing the two. Decriminalization needs nothing more than to be removed from the controlled substances list, and being removed from the criminal code. It's easy peasy, and could be done easily within a week. You don't need anything because it's no longer criminal, you just stop prosecuting them. Quick announcement to the feeds on the streets, and you're running.

Legalization on the other hand, which is what the current gov is going for, is legalization. And that requires all those special departments, policies, procedures, laws, etc...

Edit: I thought you were the one with your definitions reversed but it seem news organizations and stories actually seem to also use contradictory definition.

See for example:




Those two articles don't seem to contradict each other. They are both using legalization and decriminalization in the same way (i'm pretty sure).

The globalnews article talks a bit about how the Liberals tried decriminalizing it in the past and failed. And Justin Trudeau saying why they won't decriminalize before they legalize it. But the focus is on the legalization/regulation of it next year. It is not using those two interchangeably.

No, those are the same in both articles. Mulcair's views, are largely irrelevant now.

I don't get it. Are you saying in parliamentary systems legislation is only passed the day a new government assumes power? What do they do until the next time elections are called?

He just means they didnt have to wait for anything or anyone. If they're being well behaved they will have some due course and debate etc. But in Harper's government we often saw how fast things could go through the gov't with a majority, little debate/discussion or public notice even. Yay canada.

Legalization rather than decriminalization was certainly the campaign promise

Yes but decriminalization could have been an easier first step. So I think it's interesting they went directly to legalization.

It's not without rationale:

'Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired back saying “decriminalization actually gives a legal stream of income to criminal organizations.”'[0]

[0] http://globalnews.ca/news/2650706/canada-to-introduce-pot-le...

Interesting, the linked article called it decriminalize, but the text sounded more like full legalization to me. If you have the political support to fully legalize, why take half measures?

The Guardian is simply wrong. The Liberals fought the last election on a promise to legalize, and just today in Question Period Trudeau rejected calls to decriminalize first, saying that it does nothing to keep pot away from kids and legitimizes a significant income stream for organized crime.

It's simply poor fact-checking by the Guardian.

From what I understand, legalization is a lot more complicated in relation to international drug treaties that Canada is a part of.

Nah, we're not really worried about those treaties, we're going to send our little, "thank you, but we will no longer be complying with Section XXXXX, in YYYY)". Decriminalizing is simply taking it off the current schedule, and removing it from existing laws.

Legalization requires a whole framework of laws to be created. You could piggyback off cigarettes of alcohol, but should you? Those are the discussions that will be heard over the next sever months.

Sounds plausible that it takes some time to come up with a reasonable-ish framework for legal production, distribution, and consumption. Most of the US states that legalized seemed to jump in with an attitude more like legalize it now and figure out the details as we go. It seems to have worked okay, but could be seen as being kinda risky.

I also think that many people way overestimate the importance of international law and treaties. There is no court with any teeth on these things, and nobody gets any brownie points for following treaties. The only enforcement mechanism is what other countries care to do about any violations they perceive, which could be anything from nothing at all for blatant violations to sanctions, trade war, or real war for minor violations or even not going along enthusiastically enough.

Could be. I wonder if they would be the first to fully legalize on a national level? I can't think of any other country that has.

Portugal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Portugal

Since July 2001, all drugs are legal subject to personal consumption limits.

Looks like decriminalization to me, which matches up with what I heard. Meaning that personal users don't get thrown in jail, but the supply chain is still illegal, and nobody would dare try to set up a legitimate business for production or distribution. So all of the profits of the trade go to criminal gangs and street violence instead of either legitimate, tax-paying companies or the Government itself.

From the same article: "In Portugal, recreational use of cannabis is forbidden by law; also the medicinal use is not yet officially recognized"


That law passed in 2013 and they're still implementing the large scale sales part of the deal. Which in this case means that pharmacies will distributed the drug to "registered" customers. That will start in the second part of the year.


Could just be bad/ignorant writing where the author doesn't know/consider the distinction?

What's the difference between the two?

Legalized = "you are not prohibited from doing this"

Decriminalized = "you're not allowed to do this, but we won't treat you like a criminal if you do"

Rather than years in jail and a criminal record, the punishment would be more akin to a speeding ticket - pay a fine, go on your way.

They're also discussing how to commercialize it (and tax it), which is an important aspect of legalization. It's likely that many provinces will choose to control sales through state-controlled companies.

"Legalize" means it's fully legal to produce, distribute and buy. It may be regulated, so you may need a license and follow certain rules, but other than that it's like any other product on the market.

"Decriminalize" means it's still illegal to produce, distribute or buy, but it's not a criminal offence. So you may be fined, etc., but you can't be arrested or go to jail for it.

It should be legalized, but with one condition: any and all advertising should be banned. In fact, it should apply to all drugs (as it is in other countries).

That is fine, but beer and liquor need to be included as well.

Just because alcohol prohibition ended first, doesn't mean it deserves special treatment (I live in a state where cannabis is legal).

Ok, we put "legalize" in the title above.

A well-timed announcement for April 20th. ;)


Yes, absolutely brilliant.

Can something this obvious be brilliant?

The Waldos interview (Lagunitas, 2014). There are lots of purported origins of 4:20 (usually about as well-explained as "oh, I heard that some people in some place..." or "I heard there was a police code.."

Not that I've put much research into it, but this seems like the most believable I've seen.



We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the HN guidelines.

If you don't want it to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll only post civil, substantive comments in the future.

I'm a little bit worried about this, actually.

I've been to Vancouver and it wasn't a very pretty sight.

The amount of homelessness and crime is 10 times more what I've seen anywhere else in North America.

There's an entire section (several blocks) in the Downtown area that's full of homeless people and the streets smell like urine.

Shops even in areas far away from downtown put posters on their windows saying they don't hold cash overnight. i.e. please thieves don't break in at night because you will not find any cash.

At the same time, Marijuana seemed like it was very easy to obtain, and for free too! There plenty of shops that give it away for free "for medical purposes". Some of them even advertise that they have a doctor who will prescribe it for you in case you don't already have a prescription!

I know correlation is not necessarily causation but easy access to Marijuana was the only significant difference between Vancouver and all the other cities I've visited in North America.

I've been to Vancouver, too, and I've seen the street you're talking about. Drove down it with my family and it was shocking. Massive piles of trash everywhere, grocery carts, garbage bag "luggage", mobs of people. It was sad and quite shocking if you've never seen it before. Nothing I've seen in SF or LA compares to this.

But...I don't think marijuana caused that. I think it has a lot more to do with a permissive city than pot. Recreational pot is legal in my city (Tacoma, WA) and we don't have this issue. In fact, we have almost no problems with pot at all. My only complaint about the entire thing is the tacky advertising and storefronts that the pot industry uses to attract clients. The market is oversaturated and shop owners are desperate to survive and are resorting to decorating normally seen at used car lots and Liberty Tax outlets.

There are many reasons that area is how it is, and the presence and legal status of marijuana isn't one of them.

The root cause of the situation in the downtown east side is the City of Vancouver's effort to help these poor addicts.

Vancouver has policies and programs to support addicts, while other cities in greater Vancouver don't. The result is a concentration of addicts from all over the place.

For example, there are medical services in place to help addicts such as methadone clinics and a safe injection site.

The methadone clinics are supposed to ensure the dose, which the provincial government pays for and the clinic profits from, is consumed by the patient. Instead it's often sold outside for cash which is then used to purchase heroin or crack.

The huge huddling masses you see on Hastings Street tend to be concentrated around these clinics. The area is perfectly safe, there's no need to fear assault or robbery. It's just stinky, dirty and unpleasant.

I had to walk through it with my family. It's difficult to describe the shock we experienced.

The reason I think it's linked to Marijuana is how easy it was to obtain. If these homeless people can get access to it, they probably wouldn't bother working to improve their lives. They can have an "awesome life" in their minds if they get to smoke pot. At least that's my impression of what Marijuana does to people. It makes you feel relaxed and completely care free.

Maybe I'm wrong, and I hope someone can challenge my perspectives, but I think the rest of the world also thinks this way. That's why all countries ban drugs even though they don't ban Alcohol.

You're really misinformed on this topic.

> The reason I think it's linked to Marijuana is how easy it was to obtain

Marijuana is easy to obtain just about everywhere on the planet. I knew around 20 drug dealers at one point in the US. I buy weed here in Cambodia from an old grandma. It's easy if you're looking.

> If these homeless people can get access to it, they probably wouldn't bother working to improve their lives. They can have an "awesome life" in their minds if they get to smoke pot.

Do you have some strong evidence that a homeless person's sole desire in life is to easy access to marijuana? Because if not it comes across as a sweeping, irrational judgement against a diverse group of people.

> That's why all countries ban drugs even though they don't ban Alcohol.

Many countries ban marijuana because the US used its leverage to compel those countries to do so.

> The amount of homelessness and crime is 10 times more what I've seen anywhere else in North America.

Woah. Talk about 4/20. I'll have what you are having.

> I've been to Vancouver and it wasn't a very pretty sight.

Well, I've been to US and it wasn't a very pretty sight either. I am of course talking about the atrocities I've seen on a late Friday night in Walton, Nebraska, but clarifying that would just totally ruin the post, wouldn't it?

What you are referring to is an area of Vancouver called Downtown Eastside, which sits to the East from downtown. More specifically - there's a several-block area around the intersection of Main and Hastings streets, which is indeed an impressive cloaca. It's been there for ages and, put bluntly, it serves as the Greater Vancouver junky area.

Outside of this part you'd be hard pressed to see homeless people and the "10x crime anywhere else in NA" statement is just a random collection of words.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downtown_Eastside

You are talking in a very defensive tone, like I have said something to deeply offend you.

The mess extends to the surrounding areas as well, such as China-town.

Also, I've mentioned the signs on shop windows (in areas far away) indicating an unusual crime level. Many streets were, not very clean, to say the least. Which is not hard to understand, given the "broken window" theory.

But it's not clear why you think that homelessness in Vancouver is strongly connected to the availability of marijuana. Any evidence?

It's the only major visible factor I was able to discern during my short visit.

I'd love to see some counter proposals as to why that's the case in Vancouver.

Well, how about closure of a big psych facility and letting people literally on the street? Or the fact that the area is starting to get massively gentrified, and whereas before that population was spread across entire East Hastings, now they have to converge by Pigeon Park, so the numbers seem massive? How about the fact that foreign land investors have caused the property prices in Vancouver to skyrocket over last decade, and for developers social housing doesn't sound like something they'd do.

I heard that Riverview will be reopening, so, hopefully people with mental health issues can get off the streets.

It's a sad state of affairs, but just saying "Because Marijuana" is silly...

That street is like that partly because it's in literally the warmest place in Canada, ideal for the homeless. I don't know of any other place like it in Canada.

If you think crime is 10x worse anywhere in Canada compared to the US, you haven't looked at the US's horrible crime statistics closely enough.

I've also noticed that Vancouver is full of Canadians, unlike similar cities in North America.

[edit: sorry, this was a dumb comment, I misread North America as "USA"]

Not so clever. Calgary is also full of Canadians.

I have no idea what you are trying to say.

Actually I would challenge you to point out other cities in Canada that suffer similar amounts of homelessness, poverty, and crime.

fwiw GP is from Toronto.

OK, perhaps that was a little too sarcastic; but the post still smacks of hand-wringing to me.

We have inequality, availability of social support, property prices, local culture and climate as possible factors just to start, and post fingers availability of marijuana?

Toronto has a "marijuana community" so to speak. But it's not so easy to obtain. Not free everywhere in your face.

Gotta reply to this, since I live/work downtown.

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is the oldest part of Vancouver. It's located next to the port, so it's where the rooming houses have historically been located. It's much the same as Pioneer Square in Seattle, the Tenderloin in SF, or Skid Row in L.A. It's also where Chinatown is located, a historically persecuted community.

It's actually a great neighbourhood. You'd be surprised at how many of the movies and TV series you watch are filmed there.

In Vancouver, due to NIMBYism, almost all of the social housing projects have been pushed into this one neighbourhood. Deinstitutionalization led to the rehousing of the mentally ill population into social housing. You also find marginalized populations such as indigenous people. Naturally, with that concentration, that's where you find the IV drug use, drug dealers, prostitution, etc.

For political reasons, welfare rates haven't budged in a couple of decades, so beyond housing and health care, the people in the social housing projects aren't well cared for. A lot of the residents collect bottles from trash, or beg for extra income. It's not uncommon for an IV drug user to have a $300/day habit. So naturally there's a lot of property crime and there's always been prostitution.

The court system is overwhelmed, and it's not economical to re-house the population in prison, so there's a revolving-door aspect to the police/court system here. Generally speaking, don't expect your bike to not get stolen, and don't leave valuables in your car or your windows will be smashed.

On the flip side, it's a really safe neighbourhood to walk around in, even at night. There's very little violent crime. Most of the shootings you hear about on the news happen in the suburbs.

There are genuine homeless people out there, but most of the "homeless" you see are just local residents who would rather hang out outdoors than spend their day in the dingy "single-room occupancy" bedbug-infested hotels they are forced to live in.

Gentrification is a big deal. In the past 10 years, the DTES has been rapidly been redeveloped with new condo developments, hipster coffee shops and high-tech startup offices. The social housing isn't going to move, so there's an interesting mix and substantial tension. A lot of the "blighted" buildings owned by slumlords that are sitting there in an unmaintained state are just being held until they can redeveloped into major condo projects. The non-subsidized low quality housing is disappearing rapidly, which is causing pressure on homelessness.

There's a lot of innovative work being done to change the situation. Places like the Crosstown Clinic are doing real internationally-recognized research and making real progress in figuring out how to treat the underlying causes of drug addiction. There are "harm reduction" programs in Vancouver that don't exist anywhere else. The government has stepped in and purchased a lot of vulnerable SRO housing stock and converted it to public housing to prevent a major crisis.

Vancouver is a hippie culture. If you scratch the surface, you'll soon learn about how draft dodgers from the '60s and '70s worked their way into the fabric and today's civic leadership.

As far as Marijuana goes, it's effectively legal via "prescription", and recently there has been a massive proliferation of "dispensaries". That said, it's still technically illegal here. Just over the border, in Washington State, it's now fully legal, and you see billboard ads for it everywhere. The Canadian federal government has just announced that they are going to legalize it for all of Canada.

There's a one block stretch on Hastings Street where some of the earliest marijuana shops are located. But generally speaking, the social ills of the DTES are associated with addictive IV drug use (heroin) and crack cocaine and not with social drugs like marijuana.

Most people are blind to the fact that there are downtrodden people everywhere in North America - they just aren't in the most visible of places. In the DTES, that population is concentrated in a small area where they just happen to be more visible than the same population in your home town.

As someone who walks through or along-size the DTES nearly every day, this is a fantastic response and summary of the situation, Jim, capturing the complexity of the situation nicely. The DTES is not as simple a problem as many people would like to think, nor can it be ignored, as more and more external pressures are put upon it. It is, however, a fundamental part of living in Vancouver, for better or worse.

As for the parent comment: on a minor note, no one who lives in Vancouver thinks the issue is weed by any stretch. Jim's assessment, above, is entirely accurate. My personal hunch is that legalized weed would have absolutely no impact on that part of Vancouver at all.

Thanks for the thorough response.

> But generally speaking, the social ills of the DTES are associated with addictive IV drug use (heroin) and crack cocaine and not with social drugs like marijuana.

So it's still related to drugs one way or another.

Would you say "safe" drugs like Marijuana would improve the situation?

That's an interesting question indeed, specifically: would easy access to legal weed reduce property crime in the area (for most of the crime seems to be smash-n-grab property crime).

My suspicion: no, no change. For all intents and purposes weed is legal in Vancouver. You have to be pretty out of touch not to be able to get it. But weed is cheap, and non-addictive (physiologically anyhow, I suspect the jury may still be out on psychologically; IANAP). I would be surprised to find that anyone is committing re-occurring petty crime to buy weed only.

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