Pubdate: Wed, 27 Oct 2010
Source: Excalibur (CN ON Edu)
Copyright: 2010 Excalibur
Author: Kevin Brandt


A spectre is haunting Canada: cannabis.

Cannabis, or marijuana, is all around us. More Canadians use marijuana
than residents in any other country in the world - about 16.8 percent
of the population. Most students either use it or know someone that
does, despite knowing it is an illegal drug in this country and that
there could be legal repercussions for those caught possessing,
growing or selling it.

While there are some who are legally allowed to have cannabis for
medical purposes, critics nevertheless argue that smoking the plant
could lead to addiction, other drug use, brain damage, or even psychosis.

These supposed symptoms are well-circulated, but cannabis is not
really as harmful as critic argue it is. Should marijuana remain illegal?

There is a far lesser risk of cannabis addiction when compared to
alcohol or tobacco. The book Marijuana Is Safer cites a New York Times
article that reportedly states "pot's addiction potential is no
greater than caffeine."

Cases in which a marijuana user may become hooked on a much harder
narcotic exist; however, this could be due to marijuana's prohibition.
Because marijuana is illegal, potential consumers must make purchases
via the black market-they must interact with potentially shady

The black market exposes cannabis users to harder drugs. If marijuana
were legal, it would eliminate such exposure. Furthermore, there have
been no conclusive medical studies to prove pot leads to brain damage
or psychosis.

Of course, smoking anything is harmful to the lungs, but vaporizing -
heating the plant, but not combusting it - is a less harmful
alternative to smoking. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana does not
have more cancer-causing agents than cigarettes.

About 40,000 Canadians die each year from tobacco-related illness, but
there are zero deaths attributed to marijuana. About 8,000 Canadians
die each year from alcohol-related deaths, including over 100
Canadians lost to alcohol poisoning, but marijuana has been proven to
be non-toxic - in other words, a person cannot overdose on cannabis.

If marijuana isn't as harmful as other legal drugs, then why is it

Our government wastes valuable resources arresting, prosecuting and
jailing so-called "criminals" for simple marijuana possession- around
$57 million per year. In-stead of addressing the issue of marijuana
use, the police could focus on serious crimes.

We should tax the plant in the same manner we do alcohol or tobacco,
and use the revenue for various provincial or federal projects. If the
government handled marijuana, we'd be better assured it would stay out
of the hands of minors. Drug dealers don't check ID, but the
government does.

Many licensed medicinal marijuana users complain about how difficult
it is for them to acquire their medicine, though it seems high school
students can buy pot without much difficulty. If anti-marijuana laws
are in place to keep weed out of the hands of minors, then those laws
have definitely failed.

Legalizing marijuana will benefit Canada: tax revenue will provide a
much-needed boost to our economy, the sick will have an effective medicine,
and shady drug dealers and the black market will take a bigger hit than our
overworked police force could ever generate.

According to a Senate special committee, "public policy on
psychoactive substances must be structured around guiding principles
respecting the life, health, security and rights and freedoms of
individuals who, naturally and legitimately, seek their own well-being
and development and can recognize the presence, difference and
equality of others."

In other words, choice is a cornerstone of a liberal democracy, so we
should be able to choose our method of insobriety. That same Senate
special committee concluded their report by calling for the
legalization of marijuana, a motion since ignored by the House of
Commons. According to an Angus-Reid poll conducted in 2008, 53 percent
of Canadians believe marijuana should be legalized. It's about time
our government finally listened to the wishes of its citizens and its

Let our old-fashioned government tremble at a cannabis revolution.
Marijuana smokers of Canada, unite!  
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