Pubdate: Thu, 09 Dec 2004
Source: View Magazine (Hamilton, CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 View Magazine
Author: Chris Goodwin
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


Dear Editor,

I am concerned about the false reporting and misuse of funds by Jennifer 
Jenkins R.N. B.Sc.N., Hamilton's Public Health Promotion Specialist 
("Shades of Reefer Madness," Nov. 25). Ms. Jenkins says in a press release 
that, "Marijuana does have negative health effects such as impairment in 
judgment, coordination, perception, and loss of motivation. It contains 
more tar than cigarettes and leads to the same respiratory ailments as 
tobacco." Anyone who uses or has studied cannabis would recognize a tone of 
errors when reading the overt misinformation in the series of propaganda 
campaigns targeting our children.

The most disturbing part about the anti-pot message is when Ms. Jenkins 
falsely reports that "research shows a link between the development of 
depression and the use of marijuana," and when kids find out this is false, 
they tend to disregard the real dangers of "hard drugs" and we lose 
tremendous credibility.

As a result, Canadian teens are using cannabis at rates never before seen. 
Teens are turning to marijuana as a drug of choice, regardless of the 
confused policy of the Federal Government, which continues to demonize 
cannabis and offers a so-called "decriminalization" policy without the 
foresight of providing a legal, regulated market.

Not only does this breed disrespect for the rule of law, it demonstrates an 
abdication of responsibility on the part of our elected leaders and our city.

The study that Ms. Jenkins keeps quoting, by Queen's University in 
partnership with Health Canada, demonstrates that the Canadian drug policy 
on cannabis is an abject failure.

When kids cannot access beer, wine, or spirits because they exist in a 
regulated framework that demands ID, they turn to their local marijuana 
dealer--who never asks for proof of legal age because of zero oversight and 
zero controls.

Furthermore, if cannabis possession is only decriminalized without 
regulating the market, Canadian youth will continue to be the targets of 
increased police enforcement and victims of the criminal elements in the 
unregulated marijuana market.

It's time for a new approach.

It's time our politicians tried to solve the problem instead of trying to 
make it go away.

Prohibition has never succeeded from keeping marijuana from being consumed, 
it has simply made it more attractive and more dangerous.

We need to take the criminal element out of the equation and adopt 
regulations which allow Canadians--not drug dealers-- to decide who 
marijuana is sold to. We need to follow the recommendations of the Fraser 
Institute to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana, taking the estimated 
$2 billion a year out of the pockets of organized crime and putting it into 
the federal coffers for social programs like health care, home care, and 
day care, which are all drastically needed in Hamilton.

Chris Goodwin

Hamilton Compassion Society 
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