Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2013
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Margaret Shkimba


Trudeau Brings Some Badly Needed Honesty to the Pot Debate

Is anyone really surprised that Justin Trudeau "once" smoked pot at a 
dinner party with his wife and friends and, important to note, sans 
enfants? Really?

I'm not. What I find surprising is his admission that he did, in 
fact, smoke a spliff. I hope he inhaled it deeply and to great 
effect. Good for you, Justin, for coming clean. So many people hide 
the fact for the repercussions it brings.

That this deed occurred while sitting as a Member of Parliament, a 
position of trust and integrity, responsibility even, has, of course, 
become fodder for partisan politics. We're not surprised about that 
either, right? But who cares about the past, unless the past becomes 
prologue to tomorrow.

If his past means a different tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands, 
no millions, of people who smoke marijuana in Canada, then all I have 
to say is bravo, Justin, bravo.

Marijuana use in Canada is not something to be dismissed as a bunch 
of teenagers getting high in a circle a la That 70s Show. There were 
over three million people who admitted to smoking marijuana in Canada 
in 2010 according to the Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey 
(2011). And I'll bet doughnuts to Doritos that number is low. Maybe 
Justin was one of them; the timing seems about right.

But more important than questionable usage statistics are the 
statistics around attitudes toward decriminalization and/or 
legalization. A 2012 survey conducted by Forum Research Inc. 
indicates that fully 66 per cent of Canadians favour 
decriminalization or legalization. Only 20 per cent of respondents 
were happy with the status quo. That was followed by an Angus Reid 
poll of both Canadians and Americans which found that over half 
prefer decriminalization or legalization.

In a democracy, doesn't the majority rule? Did the rules change? 
Sometimes I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up to a world that 
doesn't make sense.

I took a course recently in which we had to engage in an online 
discussion with classmates on issues relevant to business interests. 
One of the threads was arguing the business case for the legalization 
of marijuana. It was a lively discussion, pulling in comment from 
almost everyone, with a clear majority supporting the idea. It was a 
big class, with people from all walks of life, faiths, ages and 
political perspectives, a solid representation of Canadian society. 
They had little to no problem with marijuana legalization and 

So, what I want to know is, who's running the show here? The people, 
or the politicians who ignore them?

People are assured, off the record, that possession of small 
quantities of pot won't be prosecuted, but discretion is everything. 
Does discretion mean Buddy gets a charge while Mister gets a ticket? 
And what about the dealer, or the home grower?

People don't want to break the law, they don't want to engage with 
the "criminal element" and they certainly don't want to be thought of 
as any part of a "criminal element." But there you have it: 
politicians, teachers, lawyers, doctors, university professors, 
financial advisers, steelworkers, shop clerks, office workers and 
lube jockeys, all part of the "criminal element."

Why haven't previous bills reforming the laws regarding marijuana 
passed our parliament? What's the holdup? Clearly the people are in support.

Our fearless federal leader is a tough-on-crime guy, pushing for 
mandatory sentences and building mega prisons to house the criminal 
element. He prefers to punish the politicians, teachers, lawyers, 
doctors, university professors, financial advisers, steelworkers, 
shop clerks, office workers and lube jockeys who prefer a puff to a 
brewski, Why does our elected government act contrary to the wishes 
of a majority of the Canadian people? Do they have trouble hearing? 
Are they even listening? Oh wait, they're not even there, they've all 
gone home until October.

It's time we got real on this issue and stop playing games with the 
lives and livelihoods of people who partake of a natural substance 
that's been around, and in use, forever.

Canada needs to step up and demonstrate leadership on this issue and 
decriminalize the almost 10 per cent of its population who admit to 
preferring puffing to quaffing. Maybe those who feel closeted can 
then come out.

The danger in marijuana use lies not in the physical effects on the 
body but from the illegality of the substance. And that is completely 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom