Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jan 2003
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Dan Weaver


If marijuana were legal, it would be much more safe for users and for 
society. The harms related to marijuana use fit easily under personal 
choice, as defined by alcohol and tobacco, and hardly deserve status as a 
criminal offence.

What are the harms? Perhaps there'd be some psychological addiction, but 
unlike tobacco, there is no physical addiction. Studies show the majority 
of marijuana users are not dependent. Legalization would only encourage 
those who are dependent to seek help without fear of prosecution.

The only physical consequence is lung damage, and this risk can be 
minimized or avoided entirely. Using filtering, such as a filter on a joint 
(none currently exists), or using a bong or water filter, can significantly 
reduce damage. Or try cooking cannabis instead of smoking it. THC is the 
active ingredient and it is lipid soluble. This means it can be dissolved 
in oil or fat. This would rid the drug of its only major harm. The most 
encouraging part about marijuana is the fact that it is not toxic to your 
body. Consequently, unlike alcohol, which in excess will kill you, it is 
impossible to die from marijuana.

As to driving while under the influence of marijuana, more study is needed 
to come up with an allowable level and a reliable roadside test. Stoned 
people should be kept off the road.

The biggest problem with marijuana is its illegality, which gives dealers 
and gangs lots of money. Do we really want to support the Hells Angels and 
others like them with marijuana money? This money could instead be taxed, 
and bring revenue for the government. Put that with the $1 billion or so 
saved in law enforcement, court time and jails, and we'd have an 
economically sound reason for legalization. It's time for Canada to be 
rational and honest, and legalize marijuana.

Dan Weaver,

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