Pubdate: Tue, 10 Sep 2002
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2002 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Donald Dagenais


The most comical aspect of your Sept. 6 editorial "Don't legalize it" is 
not that the Senate could propose legalizing marijuana for recreational use 
but the cavalier fashion in which The Gazette so peremptorily dismisses - 
not disagrees with - a report that the Canadian people, in the guise of 
their government institutions, have invested two years in developing.

I am also surprised by the inconsistency between your reasons for opposing 
legalization and those supporting decriminalization.You decry legalization 
as a form of "encouragement," but few people would argue that simple fines 
provide as effective a deterrent as criminal prosecution. The end result of 
any relaxation in laws controlling the consumption of marijuana will be an 
increase in use, but that increase will be almost exclusively because of 
the removal of the criminal rather than the civil penalties.

What your editorial does not address is the salutary effect 
decriminalization could have on the delivery of the end product. Currently, 
the marijuana market is supplied exclusively by criminal organizations, in 
much the same way that alcohol was controlled by organized crime during the 
prohibition years in the U.S. The end result, now as then, is that all 
money generated from the production and sale of a specific commodity is 
reserved for those willing and able to function outside the law.

If decriminalization occurs without legalization, marijuana delivery will 
remain in the hands of criminals, but consumption will almost certainly 
increase dramatically. Just what we need: better-funded criminals.

Donald Dagenais

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