Marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, pot, dope, Mary Jane and many other street names, is a strong smelling plant from whose dried leaves a number of euphoriant and hallucinogenic drugs are prepared. It is the most used illicit drug in North America and is on a rise in all age groups (Canadian marijuana related statistics, 2003). So why is marijuana still illegal if it has so many positive factors? Marijuana should be legal because it is a multi-billion dollar industry, it is beneficial to medical patients and research, and it has less harmful effects when compared to Canada's other two legal drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Many feel marijuana should not be legalized because it is considered a "gateway drug", but in fact only 10% of people that smoked marijuana become addicted and go on to try other drugs like heroin and cocaine (The Marijuana Debate, 2003).
Marijuana was declared illegal in Canada in 1923 under the Opium and Drug Act, and since 1997, marijuana has been under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Decriminalization of Marijuana in Canada, 2003).
Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Marijuana is a Schedule 2 offense, meaning "cannabis, its preparations, derivatives and similar synthetic preparations" (Greenspan, s.3). This includes cannabis resin, cannabis (marijuana) and any other cannabis related substance. Possession of marijuana is an indictable offence punishable on summary conviction (Greenspan, s.3). For a first term offence, the punishment is either a one thousand dollar fine or a sentence of six months in jail, and for a subsequent offence the punishment is either a two thousand dollar fine or a sentence of one year in jail (Greenspan, s.3). These consequences are very harsh for just possessing marijuana and they are much harsher for trafficking.
Right now in Canada, the laws on marijuana...