Pubdate: Sat, 10 Aug 2013
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The Toronto Star
Author: Natalie Reisman Breger


Re: Legalizing pot, endorsing stupidity, Aug. 7

I think there is a valid debate to be had concerning legalization of 
marijuana and the many issues surrounding it, but providing 
misinformation through a well respected newspaper only hinders the 
national conversation. Here is a list of few of inaccuracies and 
logical fallacies in DiManno's column:

1. She says "not a single habitual user I know has been enhanced . . 
. by weed." This anecdote is hardly a thorough study of whether 
marijuana is a useful substance. But more importantly, it oddly 
frames the issue of legalization over whether a certain substance 
makes someone a better person to be around or somehow "augments" 
their personality. No one I know is enhanced by eating french fries, 
but that doesn't lead to the logical conclusion that they should be 
made illegal. Enhancement of personality is not a criteria for 
whether something should be legalized in our society, nor, I believe, 
is it one of Justin Trudeau's reasons supporting legalization.

2. While making the comparison in legality and black market issues 
between tobacco and marijuana, she fails to reverse the logic to 
explore what the situation would be if we criminalized tobacco. Would 
the situation with regards to the black market and access to minors 
be better than it is now? I think not. I think the black market for 
tobacco would increase in size and more tobacco would be in the hands 
of minors.

The "ruthless" black market for cigarettes, used as a reason to not 
legalize marijuana lest it follow the same path, is never really 
compared to the massive, underground market for marijuana. A useful 
query would have been been whether the current black market for 
marijuana would be decreased by legalization of marijuana.

Regardless of what I or DiManno thinks on the subject, a well 
researched piece should offer at lease some evidence to support a 
point. In the Netherlands use rates decreased for minors when large 
decriminalization efforts were in effect. Studies support the idea 
that legalization reduces drug related violence (which she references 
later in the article, failing to note there is rarely a "turf war" 
over tobacco). Here, and in other places in the article, DiManno 
ignores information in pursuit of her point.

3. "If nicotine is so destructive of health, surely marijuana is no 
better." Most studies actually indicate that marijauna has a 
significantly lower impact on health than cigarettes. Studies link 
marijuana and reductions in cancers and inflammation. I believe 
studies have shown that there is not a tie to lung and esophogeal 
cancers for smokers of marijuana (so long as they do not also smoke 

And there are a number of alternative methods for ingestion which do 
not include smoking at all, each of which has had no scientifc link 
to health issues. This point would be easy to have done some simple 
research into rather than leading readers to a false notion that 
nicotine and THC (which is really more equivalent than saying 
marijuana, the equivalent to which would be tobacco) have similar 
health implications. They simply do not.

4. DiManno fails to note that driving while "high" is already 
illegal. It is encompassed under "driving under the influence" 
charges. While she is correct that you cannot quantify levels of 
"dope impairment" in the same way an office can with a breathalyzer, 
officers are trained to determine levels of impairment in drivers 
through tests and behavioural observation and make determinations on 
that basis with regards to laying DUI charges. Legalizing marijuana 
would not mean legalizing driving while high.

5. "Trudeau advocates making government the pusher." There is quite a 
difference between a government-run marijuana operation "pushing" 
drugs on the population (presuming it would somehow do that, perhaps 
she was tainted by her experience with heroin dealers) and 
legalization of marijuana. It is neither fair nor accurate to say the 
government pushes alcohol, or tobacco, or even chocolate, simply 
because those things are legal and taxable under our system.

Natalie Reisman Breger, Toronto
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