Ottawa considers softening marijuana laws

The Conservative government is looking at softening Canada’s marijuana laws by allowing police to write tickets for small-scale possession cases instead of laying charges. . . . “This is a proposal that gets floated around every once in a while,” said Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young in The Globe and Mail March 5. The changes under consideration are better than the status quo, he said, but aren’t that significant and could amount to a crackdown. “The police turn a blind eye to marijuana quite often because they really don’t believe it’s a serious crime. However, if it’s simply a ticket, there’s a greater incentive . . . you’re just going to find police forces end up ticketing more than they charge [now].” Read full story.

Quebec election: Tories mostly mum, Tom Mulcair vows to stay neutral
York University political scientist Bruce Hicks told the Huffington Post Canada March 5 that federal politicians always run the risk of being accused of interfering in Quebec’s internal politics. “If that accusation is levelled and it has traction with the voters, trying to help out your provincial counterparts can actually backfire on you,” he said. The Parti Québécois likes to run against Ottawa, Hicks added, noting that in the last election Marois tried to lure Prime Minister Stephen Harper into a fight on several issues. The Tories didn’t bite. Read full story.

The Conservatives’ multi-pronged attack on science
“A colleague of mine in environmental science recently told me that he is about to run out of funding since his Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council discovery grant has not been renewed, twice in a row,” wrote York University Professor Justin Podur in March 5. “Scientists like him, focused as they are on their work, are encouraged to think their funding has not been renewed because there is something wrong with them or their research. In fact, there are broader social forces at play.” Read full story.

In defense of hypocrisy
“According to Why Everyone (Else) Is A Hypocrite, by evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban, the reason we seem unwilling to make an effort to realize our inherent irrationalities is because in Western society, a flattering self-image is directly correlated with personal rewards such as greater senses of emotional stability, motivation and perseverance,” wrote York University PhD student Adam Kingsmith in Common Dreams March 5. Read full story.