Throughout my life, I have been convicted in 4 different trials, sentenced to an overall of 69 years in prison, and after lots of appeals served simply over 20 of them– the very first 2 in optimal security. I was finally launched on parole in 1997.

Offered the length of time I was jailed, you may be thinking that I was associated with hard drugs or violence. After all, some killers do less time than I did.

However my criminal offense? Conspiracy to import, have and offer cannabis.

Canada prepares to legislate weed– however will those convicted of criminal activities get amnesty?

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I brought in lots of hash from the Middle East and tons of pot from Jamaica, Mexico and Colombia. Toronto’s notorious Rochdale College was my home. After my first trial, I informed the judge: “I’m going to do it again”– and I did– but I can guarantee you I never ever got involved with any harder drugs, not to mention anything violent. I was strictly a pot person: a hippy capitalist from Belleville, Ontario, who desired as huge a piece of the North American market as he might get.

In jail, I saw myself as a prisoner of the war on drugs– among the countless others who lost part of their future in the long, cruel and ultimately useless attempt to stop individuals from purchasing, selling and smoking weed.

Norman Mailer affirmed on my behalf at my very first trial, Neil Young at my 2nd. Young informed the court that he took exception to the prevailing stereotype of deadbeat pot smokers who might never ever make a positive contribution to society, mentioning that he was a prodigious toker and yet he still likely paid more taxes than everyone else in the court room integrated.

Now a new day is dawning in Canada– or so it seems. Belongings of pot for leisure use is < a href=http://” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/13/canada-marijuana-legalisation-legislation “class=” u-underline” > about to be legislated. Canadians will be able to possess up to 30 grams, buy it, share it, put

it into edibles and grow a couple of plants. To be honest, I’ve never ever considered myself to be a marijuana activist. I wasn’t an advocate for legalization: I was making huge loan, and legalization would have been bad for my service.

I likewise don’t trust or regard politicians, particularly when it comes to pot. In 1969, the prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, set up the LeDain Commission to study the pot scene in Canada. After speaking with thousands of Canadians, the report recommended cannabis ownership be legalized. I was 18 at the time, a pot smoker

and hopeful. Nothing took place. Fifty years later on, however, the war on pot is finally over, and my side has actually won. So why am I not celebrating?

Let’s start with the motion to give amnesty to individuals with past marijuana convictions. I’m thankful that the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has actually stated he plans to “progress in a thoughtful way on fixing previous wrongs that took place because of this incorrect law”.

If the law is so “erroneous”, however, why is his government continuing to bust people for possession? In 2016, more than 17,000 Canadians were charged with a law that will quickly vanish. Offering them amnesty would be a good gesture, but the damage will have already been done. Why charge them in the first location?

'A simple amnesty from the Canadian government is not enough.'

Pinterest’ A basic amnesty from the Canadian government is

not enough.’ Photograph: Simon Webster/Rex Shutterstock And how would amnesty work? After legalization in their states

, a number of United States cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego, transferred to expunge all records of felony convictions for cannabis belongings. Will Canada do the same? If not, amnesty will be a hollow gesture. Even then, Canadians with pot convictions might still not be permitted to travel to the US because American authorities have their conviction records on file. I’m likewise troubled by the fact that the federal government’s present plan is to bar individuals with pot convictions from taking part in the substantial cannabis economy that is now emerging. We have the know-how. We know how to grow high-quality plants. We have the distribution networks. The government’s policy is unjust, punitive and prejudiced: if it actually thought in amnesty, it would let individuals with non-violent records for possession lead the way. Instead, the government has actually turned the pot economy over to the people who lost the drug war: the polices and political leaders who were accountable

for ruining many lives by turning pot cigarette smokers into crooks. They’ve been offered the secrets to the vault. They’ll be making money from the exact same activities they used to prosecute. The hypocrisy is staggering. Take a look at Julian Fantino, the former chief of

the Toronto authorities service. In 2015, then a Conservative MP, Fantino stated his total opposition to legalization, comparing the decriminalization of marijuana to legislating murder.

Fantino receives a salute from Officer Pat Troll, a mascot from a series shown to Catholic schoolchildren.

Pinterest Fantino receives a salute from Officer Pat Giant, a mascot from a series revealed to Catholic schoolchildren. Picture: Tony Bock/Toronto Star through Getty Images Today, he’s on the board of directors of Aleafia, a company that connects patients to medical cannabis. When inquired about his change of heart on pot, Fantino replied that he had embarked on a” fact-finding objective “and found that marijuana was not the demon drug he when thought it was. Maybe he should have done some fact-finding before he began tossing people in

jail. Likewise on the Aleafia board is Gary Goodyear, who held numerous cabinet positions in Stephen Harper’s federal government– the very same government that proposed mandatory minimum sentences for anyone founded guilty of growing a minimum of six cannabis plants. So is Raf Souccar, a former deputy commissioner of the RCMP whose portfolio included drug and organized crime enforcement. Previous deputy Toronto cops chief Kim Derry and ex-Ontario premier Ernie Eves are likewise members of the old law-and-order crowd who have hurried to cash in on the legalization of cannabis.

Canadian cannabis supporter blasts ‘hypocrisy’ of ex-police capitalizing marijuana Find out more

On its website, Aleafia explains Fantino as a “leading specialist on drug enforcement”. They’ve got that right. I’ve never ever had the pleasure of meeting the male, but quickly after signing up with the Toronto police department in 1969 he ended up being a member of the drug squad, among the hundreds of Toronto polices who pursued me non-stop throughout the 1970s. Now he gets to cash in on the legalization of marijuana, while people with rap sheets for something that is soon to end up being legal languish on the sidelines– or, in a lot of cases, still in jail. If I’m a criminal, what word would you use to explain Fantino and all the other ex-cops and politicians who are now looking to get abundant by switching to the other side?

A simple amnesty is inadequate. It ought to include an apology for messing up the lives of numerous thousands of people for no legitimate factor. They must be asking us to forgive them. I sentence them to need to live with themselves for the rest of their lives.

Rosie Rowbotham is a former producer at CBC Radio Topics
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