Pubdate: Tue, 17 Mar 2009
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Toronto Star
Author: Mike Evans


In 2000, the Liberals looked seriously at decriminalizing, or even 
legalizing, marijuana. With economies at all levels in dire straits, 
it makes even more sense today. Imagine the revenues governments are 
giving up to criminal organizations, which use them to fund other 
more harmful operations. Governments would get sales taxes on 
marijuana seeds and industrial growing equipment (for farmers) and 
buds (for consumers), as well as income taxes from farmers and anyone 
else who stands to profit from the new arrangement.

In 2004, 4.5 million Canadians admitted to having used marijuana, and 
about 600,000 have criminal records due to possession. Do we really 
want all these people to be criminals? Two-thirds of Canadians want 
simple possession decriminalized or made legal.

It costs $50,000 to keep one person in prison for a year and each 
year the Canadian government spends a staggering $500 million on 
enforcing marijuana laws.

Enough with the games. The War on Drugs has failed. Prisons do not 
work as deterrents, and they cost us millions to maintain - billions 
if you count lost tax revenue. Do we continue to punish people for a 
victimless crime, or do we recognize the facts and work to promote a 
brighter, freer future for Canada?

Mike Evans, Toronto
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