Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: Mirror (CN QU)
Copyright: 2007 Communications Gratte-Ciel Ltee
Author: Robert Sharpe


[Re: "Oh Cannaba!" by Raf Katigbak, Riff-Raff, July 12] Writing under
the pen name Janey Canuck in the early 1900s, an Edmonton woman, by
the name of Emily Murphy, first warned Canadians about the dread
reefer and its association with dark-skinned minorities. The
sensationalist yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst led to
marijuana's criminalization in the United States. At the time,
marijuana use in North America was limited to Mexican immigrants and
black jazz-musicians. Whites did not even begin to smoke marijuana
until after it was prohibited. Almost 100 years later, Canada leads
the industrialized world in cannabis consumption. Prohibition has
been counterproductive at best.

What started as a racist reaction to Mexican immigration has since
morphed into an intergenerational culture war, with Canada's southern
neighbour leading the global charge. The war on drugs has given the
(former) land of the free the highest incarceration rate in the world.
There is a good reason millions of people prefer marijuana to
martinis. Cannabis is easily the least harmful recreational drug
available, legal or otherwise. Science tells us that jail cells are
inappropriate as health interventions. History shows they are
ineffective as deterrents. It's time for Canada to "Just Say No" to
the American Inquisition.

The following Virginia Law Review article offers a good overview of
the cultural roots of marijuana legislation:
For additional historical background, please see the Canadian Senate

Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy
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