Pubdate: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC) Copyright: 2012 Sooke News Mirror Contact: http://www.sookenewsmirror.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2142 Author: Cpl. Scott Hilderley, RCMP Drugs and Organized Crime Awareness Service SPARKING UP THE MARIJUANA DEBATE Round and round we go over the issue of marijuana. Getting dizzy yet? It seems you can find "information" about anything you want on the Internet. If you're opposed to legalization, you can find articles supporting that point of view. If you're in favour of legalization, you can find articles that will try to convince you that marijuana is illegal simply so that government employees can reap the monetary benefits of its enforcement. You can find articles saying it's not addictive (which would be a tough sell for the folks who attend regular Marijuana Anonymous Meetings, or seek treatment to get help for marijuana addiction). Believe it or not, you can find blogs online to suggest that the world is actually flat, if you look hard enough. It's a good idea to stick to sources of whose credibility you can be fairly certain. Health Canada would be one of those (unless you're a conspiracy theorist who feels that they might be "in on it"). Among other effects, Health Canada provides the following: "Cannabis smoke irritates the respiratory passages. This can lead to bronchitis, especially if used regularly. Cannabis smoke has some of the same toxic substances that are found in tobacco smoke that can cause cancer. Frequent cannabis use affects motivation and concentration. It can interfere with school and job performance." There's a lot more, pertaining to schizophrenia etc., but it's important to focus on this last sentence regarding school, and embrace the common ground that we can all find in it. Whenever I ask anyone whether they want their child to use cannabis, the answer is an overwhelming "no." They sometimes qualify their answer with "but when he becomes an adult, he can make up his own mind." The follow up question becomes, "Is it really something you would encourage him to do, providing he is healthy and hasn't been prescribed cannabis by a doctor?" The answer is a more sobering "No, not really. I wouldn't encourage it." Therein lies more common ground. Let's help our kids navigate through their childhood and adolescence and learn how to make smart, healthy choices, so they can continue to make them when they reach adulthood. Let's help them build developmental assets (see www.search-institute.org/content/what-are-developmental-assets) so they can fulfill the promise their future holds. I'm not sure we could find a parent who wouldn't be happy if their child was supported in choosing to live a life free of drugs and alcohol. Of course there are people out there who Google search "marijuana" and "prohibition" and will write letters from Colorado, Hamilton, Washington or wherever and find fault with this train of thought. That's okay. We can add them to the list of things you can find on the Internet. On a local level, I think it's great that we've created an open dialogue here in Sooke, and I'd encourage everyone to focus on our common ground. Let's put our energy toward helping our community's kids, and encourage them to make smart, healthy choices. After all, the kids here in our community are absolutely worth the effort, and we would be doing them a disservice not to give it to them. Cpl Scott Hilderley RCMP Drugs and Organized Crime Awareness Service - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.