Pubdate: Tue, 9 Nov 2010
Source: St. Thomas Times-Journal (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Osprey Media
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, now can sleep easier.

California's Proposition 19 was defeated last 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

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.

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

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
rather than scaremongering reefer madness arguments?

The number of myths surrounding marijuana use 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.

However, 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
already can do so.

We know marijuana has medical uses -- indeed some components of pot
may have anti-tumor 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 or 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. The Commission concluded the criminalization of cannabis had no
scientific basis.

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. 
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