Pubdate: Thu, 05 Sep 2002
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


A Senate Committee Raises Valid Points In Making The Case For Legalizing 

After all, if we imprisoned every Canadian who has ever experimented with a 
little pot, we'd be constructing jails on every street corner in the 
country. And the best place to start might be on Parliament Hill. It's a 
safe bet that a majority of MPs and Senators have at one time or another 
puffed on a joint, even though doing so remains a criminal offence in this 
country. And if it's not MPs, then maybe it's their sons and daughters.

It would thus seem a tad hypocritical that these same legislators continue 
to uphold laws which they, themselves, violate.

According to the Senate committee, the current laws governing prohibition 
of cannabis simply don't work. They clog up our courts and turn hundreds of 
thousands of otherwise law-abiding Canadians into criminals.

Efforts to crack down on simple marijuana possession occupy valuable police 
resources with minimal effect. Truth is, it's about as tough to buy a 
little pot in this country as it is cigarettes.

Worst of all, prohibition is an open invitation for criminal elements to 
rake in billions in profits, while denying governments the chance to tax 
the hell out of it.

So, legalize it? Well, hang on a minute.

It's not enough to propose a simplistic solution to a complex problem. 
Legalizing marijuana would create brand new problems that the Senate 
committee and other legislators must address as part of a serious debate on 
reforming our marijuana laws.

First, it's an undeniable fact that legalizing marijuana would be 
interpreted by many Canadians, especially our youth, as tacit acceptance. 
Legalizing pot also means easing the supply. And that in turn means 
increased experimentation and consumption by youth.

The Senate report makes the case for legalization only for adults. But who 
are they kidding. It's illegal to sell cigarettes or booze to minors, yet 
kids today have little difficulty obtaining either. How do we address that 
unhappy consequence of legalizing pot?

Another sticky problem concerns our giant neighbour to the south. The U.S. 
won't welcome a policy in Canada that would only complicate their own 
efforts to crack down on marijuana importation.

That's not to say the Senate report is without merit. But let's hope it 
triggers an honest and open debate that is long overdue. There's no harm in 
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MAP posted-by: Tom