Pubdate: Fri, 23 Feb 2001
Source: Express (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Express
Contact:  554 Ward Street, Nelson, B.C. V1L 1S9
Author: Liv Lundh


Dear Editor:

Being a high school student, I don't have the most educated view of 
politics, but I find myself with an opinion all the same.  Especially 
on the marijuana issue that concerns our present government.

Considering the fact that I am a born and raised Kootenay child, the 
debate on whether or not to legalize pot is something that I hear a 
lot about. When I think about legalizing it, several things come to 
mind: our economy versus the growers and dealers, health and law 
enforcement issues, to name but a few.

On the one hand, our economy is dangerously dependent on the lumber 
industry, and legalizing pot could provide B.C. with a thriving 
alternative, the hemp industry.  However, the growers of pot would 
see taxes take an increasing share of their profits.  After that, I 
think the U.S. now that Bush is president, the war on drugs and 
everything else that is "morally unacceptable" is going to be stepped 
up.  Now add the little factor of Canada legalizing marijuana.  Not 
the best idea if we want to stay on good terms with the U.S.

I think it's obvious that steps toward decriminalization, no matter 
how small, are necessary and inevitable.  Marijuana is helpful for 
people with glaucoma, it alleviates some of the unpleasant side 
effects of chemotherapy and is proven beneficial to AIDS sufferers.

There is mounting evidence that drug dependency and drug abuse are 
medical conditions, not criminal ones.  The money being used on the 
"drug war" could be much better used in prevention and education 
rather than filling up our jails with so-called criminals.

The drug war is now in its sixth decade and drug use has done nothing 
but increase.

Many governments in Europe have already seen the futility in the 
"drug war" approach and statistics show that the decriminalization of 
drug use does not increase it.

I think Canada is much closer to accepting this reality than the 
U.S., however it will be very difficult to make these changes unless 
the U.S. starts to make them as well.

However, the changes must be made and it is up to us to decide that 
the economic penalties of acting alone far outweigh the consequences 
of continuing the ineffective "war on drugs".

Liv Lundh
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