Pubdate: Thu, 24 Apr 2003
Source: Mission City Record (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Mission City Record
Author: Robert Sharpe


Editor, The Record:

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 then 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 neighborhoods at 
risk of fire, Canadian policy makers should ignore the reefer madness 
hysteria of the U.S. government and instead to look their own Senate for 
guidance. 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 and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal 
records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.

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

Robert Sharpe
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