Pubdate: Fri, 22 Aug 2014
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Page: 4
Copyright: 2014 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Brian MacLeod


A reasoned political debate about marijuana is almost as impossible as
debating abortion laws or climate change.

Still, some voices have more influence, and right now one of them is
Justin Trudeau's. The Liberal leader wants marijuana legalized. This
comes after his opinion "evolved" from the more moderate stand of

This has flummoxed the federal Conservatives because Trudeau's
position leans toward where more Canadians are and against the natural
tendencies of a tough-on-crime government.

Unless you're using it for medicinal reasons, marijuana is bad for
you. Lethargy, short-term memory loss and the damaging effect on lungs
if you smoke too much are among the more commonly agreed-upon effects.

But humans have always sought mind-altering formulas, though just why
is a debate for another day. We try to outlaw our uglier vices and
moderate our weaker ones.

If we were to start from the beginning and decide what should and
shouldn't be illegal, we would probably crack down more on alcohol
than marijuana.

Alcoholism and the abusive behaviour it generates are a scourge on the
human race.

The World Health Organization says alcohol is the second-leading risk
factor for death, disease and disability. Yet some provinces allow it
to be sold at the corner store.

But try to debate legalizing marijuana and you get the wackiness
coming out of the Conservative government. A flyer circulating in some
Conservative ridings claims Trudeau has been "speaking to elementary
school students about the benefits of marijuana."

The flyer shows a photo of an apparent teen smoking what looks like a
joint. In fact, Trudeau told a group of students said he backed the
idea of legalizing pot because he thinks it will keep it out of the
hands of children (which is also ridiculous).

The issue has been so politicized that several leading medical groups
will not join the Conservatives' anti-drug campaign because it's seen
as a political tool.

Trudeau lit the debate last year when he admitted smoking a joint
three years earlier, after becoming an MP. At the time, Justice
Minister Peter MacKay said Trudeau's credibility was "up in smoke."

Yet now MacKay is said to be considering decriminalizing pot, allowing
police to give people a ticket for possession of small amounts. This
would reverse a fundamental belief by the government that pot is bad,
people shouldn't take it, and if you do, you're a criminal.

A poll last year by Forum Research showed 36% of Canadians favoured
legalizing marijuana, 34% wanted decriminalization and 15% want the
law to remain.

And now that bombastic pot activist Marc Emery has returned to Canada
after spending 4 1/2 years in a U.S. jail for selling marijuana seeds,
he promises to highlight a debate that leaves the Tories offside of
most Canadians' thinking. His wife Jodie will try to win the Liberal
nod for the riding of Vancouver East.

So the Tories are trying to head off the problem by compromising their
long-held beliefs.

But if we're going to change the laws, let's regulate pot similar to
tobacco and liquor.

Restrict it to adults, sell it at approved outlets, tax it and impose
tough fines if used in places it's not supposed to be and if sold to

That will, hopefully, lessen the influence of organized crime and drug
cartels in the pot trade, free up police to focus on other crimes,
ensure decent quality of the product and stop giving people criminal
records that cause problems for job-seekers and border-crossers.

We can't know this will come about, but we do know what we're doing
now isn't working.  
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