Pubdate: Wed, 07 Aug 2013
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Times Colonist
Author: Matthew M. Elrod
Page: 7


Re: "Pot shouldn't guide political agendas," Aug. 4.

Contrary to Iain Hunter's admittedly uninformed opinion, the debate
over cannabis policy is neither as "trivial" nor as devoid of
scientific evidence today as it was when Parliament hastily prohibited
the herb in 1923.

If cannabis, and the social costs stemming from its prohibition, such
as illicit "grow-ops" in our communities and one of the highest rates
of youth cannabis use in the world are not serious issues, then why do
we waste most of our drug-control budget on arresting and
criminalizing people found in possession? Why did the Harper
government just institute mandatory minimum prison sentences for
growing as few as six plants?

The civil right in question is not the right to consume cannabis, but
rather, the right to life, liberty and security of the person and not
to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of
fundamental justice. The right not to be criminalized and
discriminated against for engaging in a relatively harmless,
victimless activity. Ask someone who has lost their children, their
job and the ability to travel how trivial it is.

The question we need to ask ourselves is not whether or not cannabis
should exist, but rather, what is the optimal (not utopian) regulatory
model for minimizing the social costs and maximizing the benefits?
Every major study of the subject before and since the Le Dain
Commission has concluded that criminal prohibition is by far the worst
answer, no matter the exhaustively studied health risks and suppressed
benefits of cannabis consumption.

Matthew M. Elrod

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