Pubdate: Mon, 22 May 2006
Source: Packet, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2006 Transcontinental Media
Author: Barbara Dean-Simmons
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Welcome to the real world, kid.

Although, by legal standards, she's not really a kid. At 18, she's a 
young adult. More to the point, she is the particular young adult who 
landed herself in a whole pile of hot water last week when she passed 
a joint of marijuana to another one of her school friends. She was 
arrested, and charged with trafficking in a controlled substance.

Then the calls to the province's Open Line shows began, and the 
debate went off onto the tangent of whether or not marijuana should 
be legalized.

But that's a whole other debate, and not really relevant to what 
happened at Blaketown.

In fact, even if marijuana was legalized, it would still not make it 
right for anyone to pass around a joint or two on school grounds.

Alcohol is legal, but that doesn't mean we can all take a flask of 
whiskey to work or school to spice up our coffee or enjoy a liquid lunch.

Making that a practice can get you into a whole lot of serious 
trouble, even without the police getting involved.

In the real world, the use of drugs or alcohol -- even the mere 
possession of such substances -- in the workplace can get you fired. 
It's happened in several work places here in this province; the 
Hibernia oil platform to name one. A guy was found to be in 
possession of a joint of marijuana and was told to go home, forever.

Even if marijuana was legalized, it would still be wrong to use it on 
the job. Society has a rule, both written and unwritten, regarding 
zero tolerance.

Schools are well within their rights to adopt that same rule. In 
fact, to not do so would be shirking their responsibilities to the 
safety and wellbeing of all students in that school.

The only thing the school, and RCMP, did wrong in this case was to 
release the name of the young lady charged.

She is innocent until proven guilty and she has the right to a fair 
trial. Hence publication of her name should at least be withheld 
until the court case concludes.

However, if the school and the RCMP had reasonable cause to think she 
had committed the crime of trafficking in marijuana, they were well 
within their rights to lay charges.

If she had been passing a flask of whiskey around to young students, 
she would have risked the charge of illegal possession of alcohol, 
and supplying alcohol to minors. And there probably wouldn't have 
been one open line caller decrying the fact that the legal age for 
drinking is too high.

The bottom line is drugs and alcohol have no place in the work place, 
in a school, behind the wheel or in any place where clouded judgment 
could impact public safety.

By all means, let's debate the idea that marijuana should be 
legalized. In fact, it's becoming more and more urgent to do that, 
given that people who buy the drugs off the street may be getting 
more than they bargained for. According to police, some dealers are 
lacing their joints with crystal meth, turning recreational drug 
users into addicts with just a few puffs.

And anyone who thinks, even for a split second, that smoking a joint 
or passing around a bottle at recess or during lunch break is 
acceptable behaviour, is just not thinking clearly.

Consider this, as well. That young lady is 18 years old, old enough 
to drive a car. Many students drive to school in their parent's 
vehicles. Who do you think people might start pointing fingers at if 
a student left school impaired, got behind the wheel and someone got 
hurt? Then people would likely be wondering why the school 
administration didn't do something about it.

Last week the administrators at the high school in Blaketown did the 
right thing.

Calling in the RCMP and laying charges is the best way to send the 
message that -- regardless of whether or not a substance is legal or 
illegal -- doing drugs or alcohol when you're supposed to be working 
or studying is not, and will never be, right.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman