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.

Letter from the Chief Justice of Alberta

Chief Justice of Alberta, W. A. McGillivray, wrote this letter to me in response to my inquiry about the fact that there were more marijuana arrests in Alberta that the rest of Canada.

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10th November, 1977
A. D. Charbonneau, Esq.,
Director, Alberta Legalization
of Cannabis Committee,
P.O. Box 96, Station “G”,
CALGARY, Alberta, T3A 2G5.

Dear Sir:

I have your letter of 3rd November.

You will appreciate that the Courts have precisely nothing to do with the making of the law, and whether the smoking of marijuana is desirable or not
is a matter for the representatives of the people of Canada, that is, the members of Parliament. The Courts’ duty is to pass sentences appropriate to discourage the breaking of the law as it exists-from time to time.

Whether any particular Judge has sympathy for the arguments you make is totally irrelevant, and his duty is to give effect to the law as it exists.

While there may be some disparity of sentences across Canada, we can only be concerned about uniformity within the Province of Alberta. We seek to
achieve this, but it must be recognized that in any given case the particular circumstances of that case may very much affect the result.

I think I can not say more to you than this.

Yours very truly,

W. A. McGillivray,
Chief Justice of Alberta.

Letter from Macleans

I requested a copy of Macleans in which Emily Murphy  writes sensational articles about marijuana. I know the articles exist because I found them in the Calgary Public Library.

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October 27, 1977
A.D. Charbonneau
Alberta Legalization of Cannabis Committee
Box 96
Station G
Calgary, Alberta T3A 2G5

Dear Sir:
I’m sorry to tell you that I have been able to locate the series of
articles which you describe in Maclean’s.

Mrs. Emily Murphy wrote only one article in the August 15, 1927
issue entitled “Are Parents What They Should Be”.

I am returning your cheque but feel free to write me again if I
can be of any help.

Yours truly,

Paula Renaud (ms)
Editorial Assistant

From Joe Clark

This letter was forwarded to ALCC from Sheldon Chumir

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Thank you for your recent letter regarding my views on marijuana.
Possession of marijuana is an offense under the Narcotics Control Act, with a criminal offence registered against anyone convicted of it. Obviously, the law is not serving as a deterrent to use, and is resulting in many people carrying criminal records for what amounts to a social practice among their generation. Given this situation, I am of the opinion that simple possession should be “decriminalized” under other legislation to recognize today’s realities.

Joe Clark


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11th October, 1977

P.O. Box G96,
Station G,
Calgary, Alta.
TJA 2G5.

Dear Sir,

With reference to your article that was published
in The Herald last week, I request that you forward to me
information on this controversial topic.

I am employed as a Police Constable in the
position of a School Resource Officer at Bishop Grandin High
School, and as you are probably aware the topic of drugs.
is a very popular one with students, and I feel that the more
information that I can obtain in relation to this subject
will be of benefit to both myself and students alike.

My job also entails approaching outside
agencies with requests that they supply guest speakers to
certain classes within the school, and I would like to know
if you have such people on your staff who would be willing
to come to speak to some of the classes at Grandin if requested.

I look forward to your reply with great interest.

Yours truly,

Ivor McCorquindale.
School Resource Officer.
Bishop Grandin High School.