Pubdate: Thu, 21 Aug 2014
Source: Sault Star, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Sault Star
Author: Brian MacLeod
Page: 8


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 underaged.

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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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom