Pubdate: Sat, 6 Nov 2010
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 The London Free Press
Author: Alan Shanoff
Cited: The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
Referenced: The Le Dain Commission report
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Drug cartels, criminals, police chiefs, alcohol manufacturers and 
retailers, prison employees and big pharma, can now sleep easier.

California's Proposition 19 was defeated this week 54% to 46%. 
Marijuana prohibition remains in force in California. Recreational 
possession and use of pot remains illegal in North America.

But don't let your guard down. Keep lobbying against lifting pot 
prohibition because sooner or later people are going to come to their 
senses and accept that prohibition has been an abject failure.

All it's managed to do is push up the price of pot and give a 
near-monopoly to drug cartels, resulting in higher profits for 
criminals and increased violence when dealers try to protect their turf.

At the same time, we've made criminals out of recreational pot users.

In spite of billions of dollars spent enforcing prohibition, pot is 
almost as available as liquor products. Perhaps even moreso - since 
minors can purchase pot more readily than they can purchase alcohol products.

I'm not in favour of or advocating pot use, just common sense.

When judges, retired police chiefs, scientists and economists tell us 
prohibition doesn't work and is a colossal waste of money, isn't it 
time to at least debate the subject intelligently using 
evidence-based facts rather than scaremongering reefer-madness arguments?

The number of myths surrounding marijuana is staggering.

It is a gateway drug. It causes mental illness. It is more dangerous 
than tobacco. It is highly addictive. It kills brain cells. All myths 
that can be debunked.

But it is no myth that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. The 
Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs in England recently rated 
marijuana with a harm score of 20 compared with alcohol at 72.

Might legalization increase marijuana usage? Perhaps in the short 
term, but we're told marijuana is more widely used in North American 
than it is in the Netherlands, where it is legally available in 
government-run shops.

Would more teens experiment with marijuana if it were legal? Perhaps, 
but with the easy availability of it, any teen who wants to 
experiment can already do so.

We already know marijuana has medical uses - indeed some components 
of pot may have anti-tumour effects - and we allow its compassionate 
medical use to help alleviate chronic pain, nausea and side effects 
of chemotherapy. We do so grudgingly in Canada, where it can take 
three to six months and sometimes longer to get a one-year permit, 
even though the use of pot can reduce the need to take other, more 
expensive drugs.

Is there any rational reason to criminalize recreational pot use when 
we don't criminalize alcohol use? If the only reason is alcohol is 
already legal, then remember marijuana was legal in Canada until 1923 
and alcohol use was illegal in the U.S. between 1920 and 1933.

Don't take my word on the need for drug reform. Take the word of the 
authors of the 2002 Report of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs:

Thirty years ago, the Le Dain Commission released its report on 
cannabis. This commission had far greater resources than we did. 
However, we had the benefit of Le Dain's work, a much more highly 
developed knowledge base since then and of 30 years' historical perspective.

The commission concluded the criminalization of cannabis had no 
scientific basis. Thirty years later, we confirm this conclusion and 
add that continued criminalization of cannabis remains unjustified 
based on scientific data on the danger it poses.

Instead, Canada is poised to pass Bill S-10, which would allow a 
minimum sentence of six to nine months for anyone caught growing six 
or more marijuana plants. Wonderful. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake