Pubdate: Fri, 13 Sep 2002
Source: Prince Rupert Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Sterling Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Rudy Kelly, Prince Rupert Daily News


Gee, after reading Wednesday's story on this week's city council meeting, 
maybe people looking for dinosaurs should stop shaking the PPWC Local 4 
bushes and turn their attention to council chambers.

The outdated mentality of some councillors, in particular Paul Kennedy and 
Kathy Bedard, on the subject of marijuana law should have people wondering 
if it isn't time they got sent to the tar pits this November. They probably 
still believe that people who smoke marijuana routinely jump out of windows 
and chew their own arms off.

I am, of course, referring (or is it reefering?) to the councillor's 
comments on the Canadian Senate Report on Marijuana released last week, 
which called for marijuana to be legalized. The committee said marijuana 
should be treated similarly to alcohol, being licensed for production and 
distribution to any Canadian citizen over the age of 16.

This finding is quite remarkable, considering the Senate is made up of "old 
guard" types that have traditionally been strongly against any relaxing in 
marijuana laws. This suggests that the study, which is over 600 pages long 
and took two years to compile, greatly substantiates and supports the 
Senate 's recommendations.

Mayor Don Scott is bang on when he advises that the report should be taken 
seriously and council should be examining why the Senate is making its 
recommendations, not reacting based on ignorance and old fears.

Most groups involved with drug control, its laws or studies, including the 
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, favour, at least, the decriminalization 
of marijuana.

Federal Justice Minister, Martin Cauchon, said decriminalization would be a 
good "first step" towards relaxing our country's marijuana laws - a rare 
and laudably bold stance for any politician and, even more so, for a 
federal minister.

He said that he has found, since taking his post in January, that existing 
laws do not match public opinion.

The only major dissenting body on the idea of relaxing marijuana laws is 
the Canadian Police Association - big surprise there.

About a third of the approximately $1.5 billion spent on drug enforcement 
is related to marijuana, and almost half of the 90,000 drug incidents 
reported each year involve marijuana. That would mean less police jobs so, 
really, it 's a union issue.

Police know darn well it is absurd that as many as 600,000 people currently 
have criminal records for simple possession (the committee rightly calls 
for amnesty for these people). They also know that placing marijuana in the 
criminal domain feeds and enhances the monster known as organized crime.

The tide of marijuana use has not been "stemmed," with two million 
Canadians having used it in the last year, so the war - which is more like 
a pillow fight - against it is a joke anyway.

Surely, it makes more sense to place marijuana in the hands of public 
regulators, rather than in the hands of criminals who distribute it 
indiscriminately and are free to "spice" their product with whatever 
substances they choose.

Then there is the whole question of what right the government has in 
limiting what we put into our own bodies. There is a great hypocrisy in 
this area. All adults are allowed to indulge in the substantially more 
harmful alcohol - a fact that only someone with the brain of a dinosaur 
would try to refute - as often and excessively as they choose.

Is marijuana bad for you? Well, duh. But so is tobacco. Sugar. Fried food. 
Caffeine. Donuts. And poutine, for crying out loud, all of which should 
have a warning label!

Senate Committee Chair and Tory, Pierre Nolin, said it best when he stated 
that marijuana should be treated like other vices; not as a criminal issue, 
but as a social and public health issue.

Prohibition is a cop-out and a waste of money.

Legalize marijuana, under strict quality and distribution regulations and, 
just as is being done with cigarettes, with an accompanying research and 
education program on its health risks - which could be financed by taxes on 

Some people, even advocates of decriminalization, have said legalization 
goes too far, that Canada doesn't want to be the first country in the world 
to do it.

They also note that it would contravene drug-control treaties with the 
U.S., who are adamantly opposed to legalization here because of how it will 
affect them (them Yanks love B.C. herb).

I say, screw the Americans; they don't have any problems breaking lumber 
and fishing treaties with us.

And why shouldn't Canada be the first to do it? Must we always wait and see 
what others are doing and then fall in line?

Our leaders have shown very little political courage when it comes to 
foreign affairs. Let's hope they can demonstrate some in their own 
backyard, where it matters most.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D