Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jan 2014
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Sun Media
Author: Monte Sonnenberg


Things on the marijuana front are moving with lightning speed after
decades of inertia.

Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, made a bold
move last summer when he said he'd like to legalize marijuana. Not
long ago, Trudeau would have paid a price for that. Not so today. In
fact, there is majority support in Canada for loosening the rules.
Trudeau's position hasn't cost him. If anything, he stands to gain.
This policy will help voters traditionally torn between the Liberals
and New Democrats make up their minds.

Conservatives, of course, don't approve. Their leader is a
buttoned-down guy. Stephen Harper's asthma aside, marijuana is
something a policy wonk like him can't relate to. He was a serious man
by the age of 10 and doesn't have a counterculture bone in his body.

Harper needs to watch it. He could be on a collision course with
historic change. In an apparently lucid moment, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
last week came out in favour of legalizing marijuana. Ford is already
on record saying he has smoked lots of marijuana and has confessed to
dabbling in crack cocaine. He is at 47% in the polls and is poised for
re-election. This would've been inconceivable as recently as five years ago.

After spending the last half of 2013 dumping on Trudeau for his views
on marijuana, the Conservatives have been singing a different tune in
recent weeks. Justice Minister Peter McKay recently said the
government is open to a dialogue. Internal polling has that effect on

Further evidence of change came last fall when the states of
Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana in referendums. There is
talk of relaxing the rules in New York, California, New Hampshire and

So what has changed? Why is the tide moving in the direction of
legalization? First and foremost, there is the Baby Boom. The people
who demonized marijuana and brought in laws against it are dead and
gone. Meanwhile, the generation that grew up with it doesn't
understand what all the fuss is about. They have had enough of the
militarization of our police and their hamfisted approach to "the war
on drugs." This expensive campaign has given the United States the
highest incarceration rate of any country in the free world, much of
it marijuana-related. To Boomers, a world that outlaws marijuana while
allowing alcohol and tobacco is one that swallows camels while
straining at gnats.

Besides, now that Boomers are retiring in large numbers, they want the
option of smoking marijuana as a means of amusing themselves and
whiling away the long hours of idleness ahead. Boomers are selfish.
They are immune to concerns that the wider availability of marijuana
might stunt the development of young people who will have to support
them in their golden years.

Canadians are fortunate that we have a decent interval to watch what
happens in the U.S. before electing a new government. All we can say
with any certainty is that legalizing marijuana will not be an
unmitigated good or an unmitigated evil.

David Murphy, a member of Norfolk's Police Services Board, summed it
up well last week when he said Canadians have a lot of homework to do
before taking decisive action.

"I don't think we're ready for it yet," he said. "I believe it's
something that needs a lot of discussion. The doors are opening but I
don't know where this is leading. There are other addictions that
society doesn't seem to have a problem with. But I want to see how the
issue unfolds in the U.S. before I go into more detail." 
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