Pubdate: Fri, 06 Sep 2002
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Brantford Expositor
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


On one side, a senate committee and pot smokers. On the other side, every
police chief in the country. In the middle, politicians concerned about an
election next year.

It's a sure bet what the outcome will be. The senators' recommendation to
legalize marijuana is going nowhere.

Politicians don't have the gumption to look law enforcement officers in the
face and declare Canada is ending the war against marijuana, no matter how
much sense it makes.

We've heard it all before nearly 30 years ago in the LeDain commission on
non-medical drugs. Nothing happened then. Nothing much will happen now.

Instead of carefully studying the Senate committee's sensible report
released Wednesday, Alliance leader Stephen Harper was quick off the mark
with his opinion that he would prefer his children drink alcohol rather than
smoke pot.

Let's step back for a moment and consider the report's findings:

* Up to two million Canadians used marijuana in the last year and up to
100,000 use it daily;

* About half of 90,000 drug incidents each year involve marijuana and
600,000 people have criminal records for simple possession;

* Drug enforcement costs $1 billion to $1.5 billion a year, with one-third
of that related to cannabis.

* Cannabis use can cause short-term memory loss, loss of co-ordination and
concentration but the effects wear off.

In summary, marijuana is similar to alcohol in its risks. Despite constant
warnings, millions of Canadians have been ignoring the law and aren't about
to stop.

The logical conclusion: pull the plug on the unwinnable war against
cannabis, which is costing us up to $500 million a year, legalize marijuana
use, regulate it and tax it.

It's the approach Canada took on alcohol 75 years ago after a vain and
wasteful attempt to prohibit it.

Marijuana's time will come. Not just now.

All federal parties support decriminalizing marijuana use - that is erasing
convictions for simple possession.

And don't be surprised if our police like those in Great Britain, Germany,
Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland start to take little notice of
small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

It's a matter of attitudes. In the last 25 years, Canadians have become less
accepting of alcohol and cigarettes as the facts sink in about the dangers
of their use.

Ironically, marijuana during this time has been gaining acceptance.

Marijuana is not a good thing. It's not a harmless thing. But it's here to
stay. We might as well get used to it.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh