Letter from the Minister of National Health and Welfare

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Mr. A.D. Charbonneau,
Alberta Legalization of Cannabis Committee (Calgary),
1721-24 A Street, S.W.,
CALGARY, Alberta.
T3C lJ5
Dear Mr. Charbonneau:

Thank you for your letter of November 3, 1979, concerning cannabis legislation.

I am aware that the news media recently reported that a very large percentage of cannabis possession cases are granted an absolute or conditional discharge, a figure which does not accord with the statistical information gathered by the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs, in my Department. I nonetheless thank you for your interest in setting the record straight.

The issues surrounding the question of appropriate cannabis legislation are complex, and public understanding of them is certainly not assisted
by erroneous statistical reports in the press. A discussion paper has been in preparation which would outline the health and social issues and the policy options available. It was my hope that this paper would help public discussion of the issues before consideration of the legislative questions by Parliament.

As you know, Parliament has been dissolved, and it is unlikely that there will be opportunities for adequate public comment on our discussion paper
prior to the forthcoming election.

I want to thank you again for forwarding your comments on this important issue.

David Crombie

Hope all is well. Take care.
In the Minister’s absence,
this letter was signed by
his Executive Assistant,
David Armstrong.


Letter from the Institute of Law Research and Reform

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A. David Charbonneau, Esq.
Executive Member Alberta Legalization of Cannabis
Committee (Calgary)
P.O. Box 96, Station ‘G’
Calgary, ,Alberta
T3A 2G5

Dear Mr. Charbonneau:

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 24th which arrived while I was out of the city.

The subject of the way in which the law should treat, or should not treat, cannabis is certainly one of great public importance. It is not one in which this Institute has done any work. I would have to say that I do not think that it is likely that we will. Apart from any other question we tend to restrict ourselves to provincial matters except where something under federal jurisdiction is entangled with something under provincial jurisdiction. I therefore regret that I do not think that we can be of assistance to you.

Very truly,

W. H. Hurlburt

ALCC Bulletin

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The Canadian Bar Association will be taking a position on the legalization of cannabis at their annual August meeting in Halifax. We intend
to forward pro-legalization literature to each member of the C.B.A.

We encourage all ALCC members to write to their member for parliament expressing their views on legalization. Please forward letters to:
Mr. Harvie Andre, MP Calgary Centre
104 – 52417 Ave. S.W.
Mr. Eldon Wooliams, MP Calgary North
229 – 81816 Ave. N.W.
Mr. Peter Bawden, MP Calgary South
5th Floor 640 8 Ave. S.W.

Paraquat Test Kits have been selling briskly at Boodlum and Charisma, two downtown locations. We’ve had rumours of contaminated pot in Calgary but so far nothing to substantiate the rumours. Rolling Stone (June 1/78) has printed a warning against ineffective test kits now on the market. ALCC kits have been found to be capable of detecting paraquat as low as 3 parts per million (ppm) in concentration. (Write for details on how we determined this.) In 13 seizures of marijuana from the southwest United States, the American Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) identified paraquat contamination ranging from 3 to 2,264 ppm with an average contamination of 452 ppm. We’re marketing these test kits for two reasons: to provide a service to cannabis smokers and to raise money for the ALCc. We hate to sound commercial, but it’s a damn good kit.

In our last newsletter we reported that we applied for a grant from the Alberta Law Foundation. We were not successful. However, the Edmonton chapter of the ALCC received $6400 for the establishment of an office and salaries for staff.

Letter from the Attorney General of Alberta

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Mr. A. David Charbonneau,
Executive Member,
Alberta Legalization of Cannabis Committtee
P.O. Box 96, Postal Station “G”,
CALGARY, Alberta.
T3A 2G5

Dear Mr. Charbonneau:

On behalf of the Attorney General I acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 24,1978, concerning uniformity of sentencing. Please be advised that your letter will be brought to the attention of the Attorney General so that he may be aware of your concerns.

Yours truly,
Mary Joan St. Pierre
Executive Assistant,

Letter from Joe Clark, Leader of the Opposition

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May 17, 1978

Dear Sheldon:

My legislative assistant, Patrick Howe, tells me that you were phoning recently to obtain my views on the marijuana question; I regret that you were unable to get through to me at that time.

With respect to this issue, I feel strongly that the present law is not serving as a deterrent to the use of marijuana and is resulting in many young people carrying criminal records for what amounts to a social practice among their generation.

Alberta Law Foundation rejects our application for survey

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1210.205 – 5TH AVENUE S.W., BOX 9114
TELEPHONE 264.4701

May 1, 1978

Alberta Legalization of Cannabis Committee
c/o A.D. Charbonneau
1721 24A Street, S.W.
CALGARY, Alberta

Dear Sirs:

Re: Survey of Calgary area

As has been indicated to you, the board did not see its way clear to support your application.

In a general way they did not seem to feel that the application brought your project under our objectives too clearly. There was also some consideration of the fact that the survey did not appear to be based on a scientifically objective test and the results might easily be challenged as being in question.
For these and other reasons the board did not agree to support the application.

Yours very truly,

S.B. Laing
Executive Dlrector

Frankly, with a million unemployed

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March 23,1978

Mr. Sheldon M. Chumir
Ste. 210 Standard Life
639 Fifth Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
T2P OM9 Bldg.

Dear Sheldon:

Frankly, with a million unemployed, continuing record inflation, an 88 cent dollar, and Quebec threatening to pullout of confederation; neither I nor my party have had a whole lot of time left to consider the question of the decriminalization of marijuana.

My own personal view is that with marijuana being so widely used, it is silly to retain on the statutes a law which defines the use or possession of marijuana as a criminal act. I frankly haven’t made up my mind as to whether we should take the next step as well and allow for the legal sale of marijuana. If such a Bill were to corne before the House of Commons, I would be prepared to re-examine all of the available evidence and arguments and then make up my mind but my gut feeling is that attitudes are still.in a state of transition and that it would be premature for the government or for Parliament to make a definitive statement in this regard.

Yours sincerely,

Harvie Andre, M.P.
Calgary Centre

Letter from Prime Minister P.E. Trudeau

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Ottawa KIA OA2,
January 17,1978.
Dear Mr. Charbonneau:

Thank you for your January 6 letter. In 1974 we initiated in the Senate a cannabis bill, Bill S-19. The Senate passed it in June of 1975, and after that the House of Commons gave it first reading. The Commons, however, was unable to find the time to give the bill further attention; so it died on
the order paper when the last session of Parliament ended.

At present three departments, Justice, the Solicitor General, and National Health and Welfare, are reviewing the provisions of Bill S-19. They’re working to make certain the legislation we introduce strikes a proper balance between concerns over the potential health risks associated with cannabis and concerns over the personal and social effects of penal laws aimed at discouraging its use.

I’ve asked my staff to send you a statement outlining the major provisions of Bill S-19.

Yours sincerely,

P.E. Trudeau

Response from Solicitor General Roy Farran

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November 24,1977
Mr. A. David Charbonneau
A.L.C.C. (Calgary)
P.O. Box 96
Postal Station “G”
Calgary, Alberta
T3A 2G5

Dear Mr. Charbonneau:

While I agree that simple possession of marijuana should be dealt with as a statutory violation rather than as a criminal offence, I have no sympathy for traffickers.

I am aware of the history of fighting the hashish trade in Egypt from colonial times to the present day and subscribe to the view of mos governments in the Middle East that cannabis has been destructive to civilisation. This is not to say that I am not equally aware that abuse of alcohol is our number one social evil and the problem is deeply embedded in our culture.

I enclose an interesting article on the subject of marijuana. In short, while I favor greater leniency for the victims, two wrongs do not make a right. If that is paternalism or advocacy of “blue laws” so be it – call me what you may.

Yours sincerely
Roy Farran

My letter to Solicitor General Roy Farran

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November 18, 1977

Honorable Roy Farran
402 Legislative Buildings
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B6

Dear Sir:

I am writing on behalf of the Alberta Legalization of Cannabis Committee. We formed under the Societies Act about ten months ago and now have over one thousand members in Edmonton and Calgary. Our membership is small compared with the number of people we feel that we speak for. If the department of Health and Welfare’s statistics are applied to Alberta, then there are over one hundred and twenty thousand regular users of marijuana in Alberta. We hope to have most of them included in our growing membership.

These people are ordinary citizens who live in fear of  arrest because they choose to use marijuana as relaxant and socializer, rather than alcohol which is proved to be harmful and to be involved in many crimes and traffic accidents.