Pubdate: Fri, 12 Nov 2010
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Osprey Media
Author: Alan Shanoff


Drug cartels, criminals, police chiefs, alcohol manufacturers and
retailers, prison employees and big pharma, can now 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 more so 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 based
facts rather than scaremongering reefer madness arguments?

Even the Globe and Mail has recently advocated a search for something
better than the cur-rent war on drugs.

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-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 and some-times 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

The Commission concluded the criminalization of cannabis had no
scientific basis. Thirty years later, we confirm this conclusion and
add that 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.
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