Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jan 2012 Source: Red River Valley Echo, The (CN MB) Copyright: 2012 Altona Red River Valley Echo Contact: http://www.altonaecho.com/feedback1/LetterToEditor.aspx Website: http://www.altonaecho.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4006 Author: Greg Vandermeulen LEGALIZE MARIJUANA BUT DON'T MINIMIZE DANGERS It's time to reassess the war on drugs in Canada. That's a statement that at least two thirds of Canadians support. Talk of decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana has come to the forefront once again, first because the Liberal party adopted it as a campaign plank, and now because all the NDP leadership candidates agree. There's no doubt the drug war has failed, but what Canadians must decide is to what level we're willing to give up the fight. Finding real information about drugs like marijuana isn't always easy. Harper's Conservatives would call it a gateway drug, and point to the massive business it is for gangs. Those on the left would say it's harmless and should be legal and taxed. Both sides are of course not quite correct. Opinions vary on whether marijuana is a "gateway" drug. Sure people who use harder drugs have first used marijuana, but so have they drank coffee. Is it a coincidence or cause? If the gateway argument is true, than legalizing marijuana makes sense. That means a drug user's first step is legal. That makes the second step a much bigger one. Currently if you've smoked a joint you've already committed a crime, and trying another drug doesn't seem like such a big deal. We need to move toward legalization, that much is clear. Alcohol, which costs society more than any other drug (with the possible exception of nicotine), is legal. Why? Because it can be used in moderation, even though some abuse it. Marijuana is the same. Some can treat it as a casual drug, like having a cold beer on a hot day. Others can't. But we must be careful in this headlong rush to legalize and tax the drug. It is not harmless, no matter what some say. One NDP leadership candidate made this rather startling observation. "Unlike alcohol it is non-addictive", Romeo Saganash said of marijuana. That's not true. The bottom line is that marijuana is ranked sixth in a list of addictive drugs. Beating it out are illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine, and legal drugs such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Anyone who has known a pothead knows the drug does no favours. Those people are slower, less motivated, and generally speaking a little dumber than they would be off the drug. But anyone who thinks we're winning the war on drugs right now, should ask themselves - what have I been smoking? - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.