Pubdate: Wed, 11 Sep 2002
Source: Lakeside Leader, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 The Lakeside Leader


What Ever They Were Smoking, We'll Take A Truckload.

The House of Sober Second thought has raised its collective head again, 
this time to say every red-blooded Canadian over the age of 16 should have 
the right to walk into the closest convenience store and buy a joint - of 
marijuana - that is. And not just for medicinal purposes. Nope, they should 
be able to light up when ever and where ever they please. Just because they 
want to.

Forget the fact that these 16-year-olds aren't old enough to go into a bar 
or even buy a bottle of beer. And forget the fact that these teens are 
barely old enough to drive a vehicle on Canadian highways. Let them buy 
marijuana, say the senators. It should be a right.

"Whether or not an individual uses marijuana should be a personal choice 
that is not subject to criminal penalties," says Senator Pierre-Claude 
Nolan. He's the chairman of a special committee that conducted a two-year 
study into the use of cannabis. After some in depth investigations, Nolan 
and his wily compatriots on the Senate concluded "more harm than good is 
being done by making marijuana a criminal offense."

They suggest that making the drug legal would take its production and 
distribution out of the hands of organized gangs.

Taking the line of thought a step further, the committee said police 
associations in Canada spend an estimated $300 million to $500 million a 
year enforcing laws against marijuana. With that expense out of the way, 
said the senators, police could spend the money on drug-abuse and 
preventative health programs.

Excuse us? Give with one hand and take with the other?

Are they thinking that the move might cause more problems, but if cops 
aren't wasting their time enforcing soft-drug possession laws, they could 
be out on the street teaching kids how to avoid becoming addicted?

Or teaching another set of DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) classes? 
Perhaps it's time for our senators to take another nap. Seems they've 
missed the headlines and all the reports. They didn't get a chance to read 
on studies that conclude we're better off trying to prevent kids from 
stepping onto the slippery slope that is drug use than trying to wean them 
off the lifestyle that could so easily follow that first joint or hit of 
crack cocaine.

And we guess they missed the statistics that reveal Canada already has one 
of the highest rates of cannabis use among youth in the world.

Come to think of it, we don't recall anyone asking his or her sage advice 
on the subject in the first place.

Maybe it's something they've been smoking.

They deserve a day

First it was their even-minded, steady and quick response when half of 
Slave Lake was submerged in rushing water. Then they stepped up to the 
plate when wildfires were dancing at our back door.

And last week members of Slave Lake's volunteer fire department were quick 
to respond even before the community realized it needed help.

They were the neighbours who did the photocopying, then armed with flyers, 
went door to door warning local residents to avoid drinking water from 
their taps.

"From knowing nothing to having flyers delivered to every residence, 
including apartments, took them just 2.5 hours," says Mayor Ray Stern with 
no small measure of appreciation in his voice.

Who else could we expect to do the job but our firefighters? They're always 
ready to do what ever is needed. And we think it's time the community sets 
aside a day to honour and to thank those individuals who are always there 
for us.
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