Justin Trudeau, weed, statistics and the law - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau, weed, statistics and the law

The Liberal leader fails to meet his own standard


Justin Trudeau said he would pursue an agenda based on evidence and facts, but now he has been busted playing loose with the numbers around marijuana laws. The most charitable reading seems to be that he has conflated “arrests” with “police-reported crimes.” (After thoroughly frisking Mr. Trudeau’s numbers, David Akin notes that Mr. Trudeau voted in favour of the Harper government’s marijuana laws in 2009. I have noted that, after those laws failed to pass Parliament, Mr. Trudeau then voted against them in 2011.)

This is where the Harper government is on surer footing: when you generally dismiss the guidance that statistics and analysis might provide, you are much freer to speak and act according to your own preferred agenda.

But this discussion about statistics does lead us to an anecdote that might render the statistics here somewhat moot.

Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, can’t remember ever charging someone with pot possession or showing up at court for a possession charge. “Before police would charge someone (with possession), there would have to be some other aggravating factor,” he said. Stamatakis said, in most cases, possession charges are often the result of more serious charges being downgraded through plea bargaining.

So perhaps the discussion could start there. Is the law against possession of marijuana being enforced? And, if not, why do we bother with maintaining that law?


Justin Trudeau, weed, statistics and the law

  1. the fact that we still have to face some kind legal battle in order to make adult decisions in this day and age, is the whole travesty here. if Trudeau didn’t make this a public debate, we would still be locking people up for simple possession, mr tough on crime(harper) would let anyone sit and languish in prison for getting caught with a couple of joints. that’s the Orwellian way. that’s why we need a change in attitudes and government.

    • Did you even read the article?

      • Here, on these boards, they don’t want to read the truth about Justin. Here, on these boards, it is all about finding excuses for covering up Justin’s mis calculations.

        • Funny, this conservative might vote Trudeau, just for his candor. Me, I lost “Trust” in big C (orupt) Conservatives some time ago.

          Trudeau seems more Libertarian than Liberal, which I like. Just need Trudeau Jr to put some skin in the game so if he doesn’t deliver, we can punt him too.

          • Funny, how you, too, don’t want to talk about Justin’s double dipping practices. But NOT acknowledging the facts, does not make them go away.

    • I am for making it 100% legal. But sitting on the fence is the worst part. Either make it all illegal or make it 100% legal.

      As users provide money to crime. Blaming one and not the other is illogical. Mind you government likes illogical, as they can tax us more for it.

  2. Why would anyone believe anything Akin has to say?

      • How do you figure Wherry doesn’t want to talk about it? He posted the exact same link in his post….


        • Yes, Wherry posts the Aiken report regarding the mis calculations, but then the rest of Wherry’s article is all about how to make excuses for Justin by NOT addressing any of Aiken’s main points of his report.

          That is more than a bit odd, wouldn’t you say?

          • No, I don’t say.

            I think it’s a bit odd you think a reporter must report on another reporter’s report. I’m quite certain even David Akin would much rather you just go read his post than read Where’s take.

          • I’m not saying a reporter must report on another reporter’s report. I am saying that if a reporter decides to bring up another reporter’s report as the main feature of his article (see above) to then NOT take the report itself under consideration.

  3. What are “police reported crimes” of “possession of cannabis”? If a police sees some someone with cannabis and says I’m not going to arrest you, do they then report it as a crime? Just trying to figure out what the diff is between reported crime of possession and being arrested for possession.

  4. I imagine it depends where you live in Canada. In the west, for example, on 4/20, the cops in Regina make arrests at the public park where the pot is being smoked. I am told that doesn’t happen in other places. And I believe the police sure hoped to find pot last summer when they pulled over my son and his friends on their way to their rented houseboat in Shushwap — in fact, despite there being no drugs of any kind or booze present, the RCMP handcuffed all four young men and made them sit, HANDCUFFED, on the side of the highway for more than an hour while they searched desperately through the car and luggage to find pot. The driver was speeding, that’s why they were pulled over, but when the Mounties saw four young guys in their mid-twenties, well, it’s hard to not see this as unnecessary, uncalled for, and a little abusive too. Cops didn’t get to hand out more than a speeding ticket, but they sure made the start of that vacation unbelievably shitty. Yet one has the feeling they were really hoping to find pot so that they could really screw those kids over.

    I personally don’t think anyone except cops gives a darn about pot, and really haven’t for decades now.

    • wow, that sucks. Law needs to change.

      According to Akin, the RCMP might have reported this as a crime of possession despite there not being any. Doubt Akin knows what he is talking about though.

    • Doesn’t there have to be some kind of reasonable cause to do what they did to your son and his friends?

      • I am sure you are right, but I think they take their chances that people don’t bother to follow up, and they can always say the thought they smelled marijuana — in fact, I think they DID say they thought they smelled something. My son and his friends were unharmed and I guess it’s just one of those times in life when you understand that everything isn’t always roses. At the time, he was furious but mostly, they wanted to get to BC and enjoy their holiday — and after the holiday, he lost track of his anger about it, to be sure.

        • Almost certainly done without probably cause, but the cop can just claim to have smelled marijuana.

          • Excactly. The other thing that really burns me about the current situation is that a lot of cops just like having illegal possession of weed on the statute books so that they can have something to throw at someone when they pull them over or detain them and can’t find anything else. It has nothing to do with the substantive merits of whether or not pot should be legal — it’s just that when cops pull people over that they don’t like or whom they suspect are “bad” or “up to no good”, cops love having the luxury of being able to nail them for pot possession if they can’t find evidence of anything else “insidious”.

      • I read it, though I clicked on the link as provided by Wherry.

        In my opinion, one conviction is too many, so to debate between 50,000 and 475,000 is a bit academic.

        Just like one conviction for selling grain to the U.S. was one too many, or one conviction for an unregistered gun was one too many.

        • And yet, the uproar over the gunregistry came about, first and foremost, because more than just 2 million had been spent on it. So, yes, numbers do matter at times.

          But it is not just numbers which are misquoted by Justin Trudeau; Justin Trudeau apparently did not indicate or did not understand the difference between convictions and arrests.

          That then is more of a problem.

        • never any convictions for selling wheat, only fines.

    • And Patchouli, what you say about the Regina situation and all goes to part of why I want the law changed — the very arbitrariness of the current situation. If cops in various parts of the country aren’t enforcing the law, while others are, there’s just an inherent gross unfairness there. Criminal law in Canada is federal, so it should be applied uniformly across the country. Personally, I think pot should be legal, and we wouldn’t be dealing with this crap. Cops could spend their time and budgets going after things that case real damage, like thieves, rapists, murderers and so on.

    • You know why they give a damn about pot? Because it’s far easier to bust a grow op where the tenant will greet them at the door with a bag of Doritos, instead of the crack house where they would be greeted with an unregistered 45 magnum. Good way to meet their war on drug numbers.

      • Excellent point.

  5. “So perhaps the discussion could start there. Is the law against
    possession of marijuana being enforced? And, if not, why do we bother
    with maintaining that law?”

    This is probably the most devastating point. In marijuana possession is only illegal to serve as a cudgel against individuals the police don’t like but can’t arrest or convict on some other charge, it has no legitimacy.

    • And what does Justin have to say about it all?

      Justin has been so quiet for a week or more. Nothing else coming out of Justin’s mind being of interest?

      What does Justin think of Putin’s latest actions to ship more arms to Iran?

      • Who cares? What Justin does or does not believe does not change the facts. WTF is with your fixation on Justin? It’s getting a bit weird. I estimate ~75% of your posts mention Justin, and usually as a non-sequitur.

        • How strange. This article by Wherry is actually about Justin and his take on statistics and how to make excuses for him.

          So, should I try to avoid talking about Justin when the article we are responding to, is actually about Justin? How very interesting.

          • You threw Justin at me, when I did not mention him explicitly or refer to him indirectly. I was commenting on what Wherry said about the fact that law is largely not enforced. Justin Trudeau is a sideshow in that conversation.

            I don’t take leadership from Trudeau. He happens to agree with me on a few issues.

  6. “FIFE: All right. Now let me ask you what the prime
    minister has been saying about this. He says you’re talking about pot
    and he’s talking about the economy. He’s trying to paint you as sort of
    somebody who doesn’t care about the average concerns of Canadians.

    TRUDEAU: Canadians are concerned about the $500 million a year we
    spend on needlessly prosecuting and going after pot users. Canadians are
    concerned about the 475,000 people who now have criminal records in the
    past years since Mr. Harper has taken power.”

    Trudeau’s numbers are completely false and those false numbers are repeated, over and over again by many media outlets. Just because Justin says something, the media eats it all up as being true. How bizarre a world we live in.

    Read here what Wherry does not want to talk about:


    • Thanks for the link. Worth the read.

  7. Oy. I can see how this happened, but still a big oops.

    Amazing to see how many people accepted this number without question. Someone comes up with the figure, puts it on the website, and before you know it Trudeau is adopting it, and the media follow suit. A good lesson on fact checking…

  8. If weed is illegal why is it not being enforce? That doesnt even matter much. They are trying to control marijuana. you cant control it if it is illegal. we are spending to much money to on drug busts, which aren’t working. If Justin voted for hapers bill in 2009 thats ok. he is for marijuana legalization now, in 2013. harper is ruining this country.

  9. The government stands to make a large sum of taxes if they were to legalize marijuana. They could create special licenses to growers at a fee create stores or again licenses to sell (think lcbo) if they current market is 10 a gram large companies like the tobacco companies could probably mass produce to get costing down to very little (green house tomatoes or other vegetables grown indoors. At this point tax marijuana similar to gas while at the same time under cutting dealer prices. Making it more available and a lot less sketchy to purchase. Howeverthey would need a way to test your thc levels on the spot similar to alcohol as it should still be illegal to drive under the influence before I could see it being legalized. They other issueany people don’t look into is how many trading partners (countries) would we loss. Would the taxes generated from the sale of marijuana be greater than the potential loss in international trade

  10. Two US states have legalized it for recreational use.

    Simple facts are that making it legal, not just decriminalized but legal, is crime related to it, LE costs related to it, court and jail costs related to it, even theft related to it go away as weed will be cheap if we can all legally grow it.

    Criminals love it illegal, it raises the price and raises the profits!

    Even though I don’t smoke it, makes all sorts of sense to legalize it.

  11. I wrote Justin Trudeau and got no response.

    I asked Justin to put 10 things forward in specific deliverables with dates, ideally in less than one or two years. The 10 items would be what he is going to change and accomplish.

    Then in 2 years (or less) if he hasn’t delivered, he must quite as MP/PM. Yep, a legal agreement with the people of Canada as we don’t trust Liberal liars. We need politicians to put some skin in the game to back up what they say.

    No response. Talk is cheap, action is divine.

  12. Police are doing a better job protecting us all with respect to Marijuana then legalization will. Fact is crime is down, and many youth do not smoke pot. If we legalize it, crime may lower insignificantly, however exposure will grow significantly. With legalization, more youth will now know where to find it and may try it. Our society will echo a sense of tolerance, detracting investors who are growingly conservative, from investing in our labourforce. Bad timing Justin, I dont need young kids getting Legal Weed from everyone carrying it and charging a premium!