Around the pot…

April 15, 2017

CBC News – Peter Zimonjic
Pot legalization bill provides many answers, but leaves some key issues in limbo – Public awareness campaign on drug-impaired driving ‘clearly inadequate,’ CAA says

Called Bill C-45, the promised legislation on medical and recreational marijuana was presented on Thursday but there remains some critical detail yet to resolve.  Among other concerns, we yet do not know what “the future will be for edible cannabis products, what the price of cannabis will be, how marijuana will be taxed and how advertising and packaging restrictions.”  What is also clear is that we do not know how the impaired driving will be impacted.   Related article: CBC News Health, justice ministers on new pot legislation   (An 11 minute interview)    Related article: CBC News – David Cochrane   How to legalize marijuana, without ever saying ‘marijuana’ – What’s in a name? Why Liberal ministers stuck to a script on pot   Related article: Ottawa Citizen Jenna Valleriana   Marijuana bill still wispy on important details   Related article: National Post – Chris Selley   Pot legalization plan is as good as could be expected. But will it happen?   Related article: Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant and Sammy Hudes    Lawyer doubts new impaired driving bill will get past constitutional scrutiny   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (April 13, 2017)  Marijuana bill promises much, including hurdles   Related article: Globe and Mail – Daniel Leblanc and Mike Hager   Canada’s marijuana legalization plan designed to reduce criminal role in market   Related article: Globe and Mail – Sean Fine   Police to get sweeping authority in impaired driving overhaul  Related article: Globe and Mail – Neil Boyd   Is this the end of the black market for marijuana?

 Statesman Journal (OR) – Whitney M. Woodworth
Proposed bill aims to cut Oregon’s prison population

Oregon lawmakers are alarmed at the skyrocketing women prison rates and looking for ways to cope with prison overcrowding.  This piece of legislation, House Bill 3078, was spurred by the choice of solving the problem or building a new $20 million prison.  “Supporters of the proposed bill say the act, which would change sentencing guidelines for property and drug convictions and allow more people into treatment and transitional services, would keep people out of Oregon’s crowded prisons.”   Related article:  US News – Meredith Hoffman, Associated Press  Texas Getting First Immigrant Center Built Under Trump – Private prison company GEO Group has announced a $110 million federal contract to build the first new immigrant detention center under the Trump administration

Toronto Star –
Ontario chief pathologist slammed by judge for offering ‘incorrect’ opinions in court

Still in the grips of regret in professional misconduct from the days of hair tests for heroin addiction and other non-evidentiary opinions (remember Dr. Charles Smith), Ontario’s replacement and clean-up specialist for Smith – Dr. Michael Pollanen, appointed in 2006) – now has himself a problem with articulating opinion vs evidence according to Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy.  But Molloy also noted that “she does not question Pollanen’s expertise or integrity, and said she believes his bias to be unconscious.”

Globe and Mail – Gloria Galloway
Métis leaders hopeful about signing of Canada-Métis accord

The Daniels decision of the Supreme Court established federal government responsibility and extended the government obligation current in place for status Indigenous to the Métis of Canada. Estimates on the number involved are likely high at 450,000 and the latest agreement signed by Trudeau with six of his ministers will prompt a determination process of some kind.  The Métis leaders appear concerned around social benefits such as health care and education.

The Sentencing Project (US) –
Racial Impact Legislation Clears New Jersey Assembly

Known as Bill S-377, the legislation will require that sentencing take into consideration the racial impact on the defendant, given that New Jersey has the country’s highest rate of racial disparity in imprisonment, with African Americans imprisoned at 12 times the rate of whites.  The new law will require an analysis of the impact on all aspects of the criminal justice system, including on pretrial detention, sentencing, probation, or parole policies.   New Jersey joins four other states current with racial impact sentencing laws: with Iowa, Connecticut, and Oregon.   Related article: Sentencing Project – Nicole D. Porter   Racial Impact Statements   (Cf first link for reports on both the impact of race on exonerations and the impact of criminalization on women, whose rate of imprisonment is skyrocketing in the US.)

The Guardian (UK) – Shaun Walker
Chechens tell of prison beatings and electric shocks in anti-gay purge: ‘They called us animals’

 Walker and a number of other credible journalist are reporting that Chechen police are rounding up gay men and establishing gay torture camps for over 100 gays.  The arrests have prompted the establishment also of escape route and evacuations of the LGBT community across the country.  Russian journalists say they have incontrovertible evidence of the death of three gay men to date while both Russia and Chechnya still deny the reports.

 CBC News –
Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women postpones Edmonton, Thunder Bay meetings – Meetings needs to be “reformulated” to make them more inclusive, accessible and focused, inquiry says

 Two regional meetings scheduled for Edmonton and Thunder Bay have been postponed after an initial meeting in Whitehorse.  The postponements are driven by a problem already reported, namely, to date, of the 1200 plus victims, only 122 have registered as witnesses.  Criticized for failure to notify and invite family members of the victims, the inquiry has not yet re-scheduled the two regional meetings.