Pubdate: Thu, 05 Sep 2002
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 The Calgary Sun


We've all heard about how some Canadian senators have been caught sleeping 
on the job or not showing up at all -- for years. Now we think we know the 
reason for such lethargy and truancy. It must be something they're smoking.

How else to explain the conclusions drawn by a special Senate committee 
report released yesterday recommending that marijuana be legalized.

That's right, the upper chamber of (cough, cough) sober second thought 
isn't recommending decriminalizing marijuana.

It is recommending making it completely legal.

You know, putting it in packages, selling it at corner stores (marijuana 
marts perhaps?) and, of course, collecting taxes from it.

It's kind of like putting the cart before the horse in all respects.

Firstly, this is a government that has been talking and talking and talking 
for almost 10 years now about making medicinal marijuana available to 
severely ill Canadians, but still has done virtually nothing to make that a 
reality. Surely that should come first.

Currently, every political party is in favour of decriminalizing the simple 
possession of marijuana to save our police and courts from being bogged 
down with such minor "crimes" in order to take care of more serious crimes.

And with good reason. The cost of drug enforcement runs at $1 to $1.5 
billion a year with a third of that related to cannabis. About half of the 
90,000 drug incidents reported each year involve pot and up to 600,000 
people have criminal records for simple possession.

As Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said, our laws no longer reflect our 
reality. "When we have legislation that's not really being enforced because 
it's no longer consistent with social realities, it's important for a 
government to look at and reshape such legislation," said Cauchon.

Decriminalizing marijuana would make it possible for police to simply issue 
tickets -- similar to speeding tickets -- to people who possess slightly 
more than allowed under the law or for smoking in inappropriate places. 
That means people caught with small amounts of marijuana would not face 
prosecution, jail and a criminal record.

But legalization would simply legitimize something that should be 
discouraged. After all, have we learned nothing about tobacco? And while 
marijuana is no worse than alcohol, it still has detrimental effects on 
heavy users.

Lethargy and truancy being just two of them.

Just ask the Senate.
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MAP posted-by: Beth