Pubdate: Wed, 13 Nov 2002
Source: Huntsville Forester, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Huntsville Forester
Author: Robert Sharpe

GROWING MARIJUANA SHOULD BE LEGAL Re: Indoor pot-farming trend pushes into 
cottage country, October 23.

Ontario's hazardous marijuana grow operations are a direct result of 
marijuana prohibition. Legitimate farmers do not steal electricity to grow 
produce in the basements of rented homes. If legal, growing marijuana would 
be less profitable than farming tomatoes. As it stands the drug war 
distorts market forces such that an easily grown weed is literally worth 
its weight in gold.

Rather than continue to subsidize organized crime and put neighbourhoods at 
risk of fire, policymakers should follow the recommendation of the Canadian 
Senate and end marijuana prohibition. In the words of Senator Pierre Claude 
Nolin, "Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is 
substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a 
criminal issue but as a social and public health issue."

There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting 
children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of 
marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal 
records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.

As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, 
consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like cocaine. 
This 'gateway' is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Drug 
policy may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the 
children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe,

Program Officer Washington, D.C.
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