Pubdate: Mon, 01 Nov 2010
Source: Phoenix, The (CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The University of British Columbia
Author: Kevin Brandt - Excalibur (York University)


Majority of Canadians are supporting the legalization proposal

TORONTO (CUP) - Marijuana is all around us. More Canadians use
marijuana than residents in any other country in the world - about
11.4 per cent of the population.

Most students either use it or know someone who 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 use it for medical
purposes, critics nevertheless argue that smoking the plant could lead
to addiction, heavy drug use, brain damage or even psychosis.

These supposed symptoms are well circulated, but marijuana is not
really as harmful as critics argue it is.

There is a far lower risk of addiction when compared to alcohol or
tobacco. In fact, according to research by Jack Henningfield and Neal
Benowitz, two addiction specialists, pot's addiction potential is no
greater than caffeine.

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

Our government wastes valuable resources arresting, prosecuting and
jailing so-called "criminals" for simple marijuana possession,
spending millions each year. Instead of addressing the issue of
marijuana use, the police should 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. Afterall, 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 only 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

According to a 2002 Senate special committee, drug policy "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."

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

According to a poll by Angus-Reid from 2010, 53% of Canadians believe
marijuana should be legalized.

It's about time our government listened to the wishes of its citizens.
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