An annual call to loosen cannabis laws: 4/20

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OTTAWA, April 16, 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.

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