Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jun 2003
Source: Flamborough Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Flamborough Post
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


"Everybody does it" is not a justification many parents would accept. But 
it appears to be a solid part of why the Liberal government is drafting 
legislation to decriminalize the possession of arguably small amounts of 

There is some validity to the plan. Clogging courts and demanding police 
hours to enforce a law the population does not stand behind is an expensive 
waste of time. People only obey laws they believe to be just, and if public 
opinion has indeed swung far enough around that outlawing marijuana appears 
unjust to the majority, it is time the legislation was changed.

Though the bill is still a work in progress, a draft version would see a 
small fine levied for those found carrying less than 15 grams of marijuana, 
or enough for about 25 joints. Adults would receive more severe fines than 
youths caught with the substance. And heavier sentencing and enforcement 
will be re-routed to growers and distributors of the drug.

According to officials at Alternatives for Youth, an organization that aids 
addicted young people with offices in Flamborough, marijuana intake is 
tacitly condoned by many parents today, perhaps thanks to the 
nostalgia-tinged view of their own youthful consumption.

This is a mistake. The potent pot grown today bears little resemblance to 
the lighter versions smoked by yesterday's flower children. As well, there 
is the health damage that smoking anything begets to consider.

As for the argument that cigarettes and alcohol are deadlier than pot, it 
is usually considered too late to make those illegal now. That is clearly 
not the case with marijuana.

The proposed bill also aims to rid youths of criminal records for what many 
see as a routine rite of passage. This goes along with the social 
philosophy of the new Youth Criminal Justice Act, which aims to ensure that 
young people don't pay with jail time or other unpleasantness for youthful 
indiscretions that happen to run afoul of the law.

It's true that a criminal record is an albatross around the neck of a young 
person who is trying to make a productive life for themselves. But it is 
equally true that young people bear some responsibility for staying on the 
right side of the law.

Meting out a stricter punishment for adults than youths for marijuana 
possession is teaching all the wrong lessons. Young people must not feel 
that they are above the law. They must not feel their youth will protect 
them if they willfully choose to break the social contract.

Coming down hard on growers to squeeze out the source is a good idea if the 
will to keep pot illegal is still in place.

But we do the younger generation and society as a whole no favour if we 
fail to teach that rules matter and that youth is no excuse for breaking 
the law.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager