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April 11, 2006 - Mcgill Daily (CN QU Edu)

Mcgill's Grass Gets Greener

New Club Lobbies For Legalization Of Pot

By Carina Sorensen

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

When drug enforcement agents from around the world gather in Montreal next month, they will be greeted by a protest organized by a newly-formed McGill club.

In collaboration with a number of organizations, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, McGill's National Reefer Association (NRA) will be organizing a symposium involving former agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), criminology professors, and a police chief from Florida. The DEA has been invited to this conference, but has not yet responded.

Three McGill students were inspired to form the NRA after marijuana activist Marc Emery's recent visit to McGill. The club was granted interim status by SSMU Council on Thursday.

Eric Rumi, President and co-founder of the NRA, feels that an organization like the NRA is necessary because the Canadian government is actively enforcing marijuana prohibition, contrary to popular belief that Canadian marijuana laws are lax.

"There is a very grave misunderstanding of the situation of marijuana legalization in Canada. Most people are under the impression that marijuana is decriminalized. Over a billion dollars a year are spent on enforcing marijuana prohibition. However, there are more marijuana users in Canada now than ever before," said Rumi.

With the election of Stephen Harper's Conservative Party, the government stopped legislation proposed by the Liberal Prime Ministers Paul Martin and Jean Chretien, which would have decriminalized the possession of marijuana under the amount of 15 grams.

The Conservatives, however, have proposed mandatory jail sentencing for drug offences, including the possession of marijuana.

When current Justice Minister Vic Toews was an opposition critic, he criticized the Liberal government's plan.

"The marijuana bill appears to me to be tailor-made for organized crime; that is, it encourages youth to use marijuana and indeed to traffic in marijuana and at the same time it leaves the source of the marijuana illegal and criminal, thereby in fact increasing the potential for profit for an organized criminal," Toews said in 2004.

In 2002, the Canadian Senate commissioned a special report on cannabis policy. The report concluded that marijuana should be legalized and found that marijuana is not a "gateway drug" and does not create physical dependency.

For these reasons, Rumi believes it is important that people actually take a stance.

"The facts are there, but we need people to pressure the government. We need people mailing MPs, we need people lobbying the government. The government doesn't listen to facts, they listen to pressure," Rumi said.

Therefore, Rumi said that the NRA's goal is to mobilize the public and act as a catalyst for McGill students and fellow Montrealers to speak out against the criminalization of marijuana. Hoping to garner wide support, the NRA hopes to exert political pressure as a lobby group, and change Canada's prohibition of marijuana.

"Marijuana culture is a silent majority. Over 2 million people in Canada last year used marijuana but only 400 marched in the Global Marijuana March. We need people to start turning up and this is the only way to overcome stigmatization -- so stand up for your right and do something about it," said Rumi.

Starting at 3 p.m. on "4/20" (April 20), the NRA will campaign for its cause on the lower field of McGill campus. The event is meant to raise awareness and to celebrate marijuana culture, as well as recruit volunteers. As Rumi stated, "Bring weed, bring friends."

To join the NRA or for more information visit and

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