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NORML Canada Statement of Principles

  1. That it is the right of every adult to use, possess, produce, purchase and distribute cannabis – whether for recreational, medicinal or industrial purposes.
  2. That in Canada, a constitutional democracy governed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there is a consensus that governments should not interfere with the liberty of the citizen, unless the conduct in question presents a serious, substantial, or significant risk of harm to innocent third parties or society as a whole – and that numerous government-sponsored commissions and committees have all concluded that the risk of harm associated with the use of cannabis does not warrant or justify criminalization of this activity.
  3. That cannabis is a relatively benign substance that has been used safely by many millions of Canadians. Nonetheless, it is recognized and accepted that the criminal law prohibits driving a vehicle while one’s ability to do so is impaired by any psychoactive substance, including cannabis. It is further recognized that people should be properly educated about the potential risks and benefits of using cannabis before engaging in the use of the substance, in order that they can do so on an informed and voluntary basis.
  4. That the continued application of the stigmatizing label of “criminal” to a voluntary and informed choice made by over 3,000,000 Canadians can only serve to foster widespread disrespect for the administration of the law, and of criminal justice in particular, and that the current prohibitory policy towards the use, production, and distribution of cannabis is counterproductive and leads to many social harms – including the marginalization of the youth population (70% of whom have used cannabis), the creation of an unregulated market attractive to elements of organized crime, and the squandering of limited and valuable criminal justice resources.
  5. That cannabis should be fully legalized, and that its use, production, and distribution be properly regulated and taxed by provincial and local governments, much like alcohol and gambling.
  6. That the production of cannabis is not inherently dangerous and that both medical and recreational users should have the right to grow their own cannabis, subject only to zoning by-laws and building permit requirements. However, patients who use cannabis for medicinal purposes should also be able to obtain this medicine from a safe source of their choice – be it pharmacies, compassion clubs, or other licensed dispensaries – with the support of a physician or health care practitioner.

Therefore, in accordance with international treaty obligations, NORML Canada declares that the criminal prohibition of the cultivation and use of cannabis is no longer the most suitable measure for protecting public health and welfare and preventing the diversion of drugs into illicit traffic. In our view the legalization, regulation, and taxation of the substance represents the most suitable measure to accomplish those objectives.