Pubdate: Thu, 14 Apr 2011
Source: Castlegar News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Castlegar News
Author: Steve Clement


Last week's front-page article in the Castlegar News, 'Marijuana
controversy grabs national attention,' makes me wonder how and when
this issue will ever be put to rest.

The zealous efforts of the RCMP to uphold the letter of the law is
certainly not in question. The bigger issue is: Why are we continuing
to waste law enforcement time and money fighting the proliferation of
this plant, but have yet to act on the judgment of our most
intelligent research to reform our laws?

The use of cannabis by humans has a long history. Knowing why and how
this medicinal plant became targeted as a threat to our society is an

It has been studied to death by our government commissions, appointed
committees, professors of criminology, and medical associations. While
it is well known that these studies have arrived at the consensus that
cannabis use is only a minimal threat to our personal health and that
the most efficient way to address abuse is through education, the
incentive to change the prohibition laws remains mired in emotions and

At one point it looked like Canada would lead the way to law reform,
but this was contrary to the Bush agenda, and he said no. So much for
national sovereignty, but that's another story.

Now many U.S. states are making concessions for the sick and dying and
are moving towards legalization. Other countries like Portugal are
totally abandoning their failed drug war policies. Meanwhile, here in
Canada, despite the weight of science, medical need, and common
consensus, our corporate-manipulated government continues to spin
unsubstantiated fear through the media for the need to continue the
war on this plant. Apparently it is more important to protect the
substantial monetary benefits for those who block law reform, like the
alcohol and tobacco industries, than to address the underlying
failures of our dysfunctional society that buries its pain with addictions.

The reason for the continuance of the status quo has little to do with
the plant itself; which has zero deaths attributed to its use. It's
all about the money.

The crime and violence associated with the marijuana business is being
generated by prohibitionist policies that create the lucrative
black-market. The subsequent violence arises when police forces are
subsidized to fight the war on the drug crime which is the direct
result of the anti-drug policies. The latest addition to this insanity
is mandatory minimum sentences and the creation of private prisons for
profit. This scenario makes as much sense as a dog chasing its tail.

The solution presented by our best minds to end this war is to remove
the money element from the equation, by introducing a
decriminalization policy. This would put an end to the black market
profits that spawn the hazardous situation of people setting up
illegal grow-ops, stealing power, and having their homes invaded
either by the armed police or the criminals.

Unfortunately, only a minority of citizens are asking when will we get
to the point of making the changes in our laws that would put an end
to the problems being created.

It is ironic that we are providing such a poor example in
decision-making and problem-solving for our young people, who we claim
to be defending from the evils of drugs. Unlike most of us, many high
school students face the choice to use cannabis from day to day. They
can easily see through the failed attempt to protect them with laws.
They know that it is totally within their own educated control to say
yes or no.

When it comes to making good choices, the biggest incentive we can
give our youth is to provide them with a confident enlightened
leadership model that overcomes fears and takes charge of any
situation. I believe we have the power to end this prohibition problem
by initiating new programs for positive change.

Steve Clement

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