Pubdate: Wed, 28 Oct 2015
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Grant LaFleche
Page: A2


Here is the deal, folks. Sooner or later, probably sooner, pot is
going to be legal in Canada.

All the signs are moving in that direction. Medical marijuana is
already a reality and, despite the dire warnings of some, the sky did
not fall and Canada did not turn into a cesspool of scum and villainy.

In Niagara Falls Tuesday, city councillors scheduled a meeting to
discuss regulations governing the growing, processing, packaging of
medical marijuana in the city.

Some residents are none to pleased with the idea.

Glenn and Elaine Wilson, for instance, wrote a letter to the city
describing the notion of a medical marijuana facility in the city as
"appalling" and "ethically and morally wrong."

They say that "as parents and educators we have gone to great lengths
to teach our children about drugs," and want any facility placed
outside Niagara Falls city limits.

The underlying logic to these sorts of objections is simplistic, in
the pejorative sense of that word: So called "street" drugs are bad.
The sale of said drugs is a criminal activity. Where criminal activity
is done, there are criminals and the surrounding neighborhood suffers.

Marijuana is a street drug, therefore the sale of marijuana in a
community will result in criminal activity. And lots of addicts who
will then use far more harmful drugs such as cocaine.

This reasoning only works if you just decide to ignore a bunch of
critical elements that are at play here.

Medical marijuana is a regulated and controlled substance. Having a
business that processes it for medical use is effectively no different
than having a factory in your community that produces Aspirin or an

You don't see drive-by shootings or creepy dudes selling penicillin in
alley ways around those places do you?

If you think that worrying about a company that makes cancer drugs
will turn kids into addicts is ridiculous, then you'll understand why
"moral" objections to medical marijuana is silly.

What really seems to get people gnashing their teeth though, is the
larger idea that pot will become legal beyond just medical uses,
turning children into drooling addicts.

We saw this during the election. The Tories tried to say the Liberals
were going to give pot to kids, thereby turning Canada into a giant,
wintery flop house. That might be an exaggeration, but you get the
general idea.

The reality, however, is that pot exists. It's as ubiquitous as
smokes, booze and internet porn. Despite what outgoing Prime Minister
Stephen Harper said, pot is not infinitely more dangerous than
cigarettes or wine. The harm factor from consumption is roughly the

Legalizing it doesn't mean pot dealers are showing up at your kid's
school, any more than LCBO reps are pushing VQA wines on fifth
graders. It means it will be regulated, taxed and controlled just like
cigarettes and alcohol.

If you are truly concerned about the "moral" implications of how pot
is sold, transforming it into a control substance should make you rejoice.

Many years ago, a police intelligence officer told me how marijuana is
a major source of income for outlaw biker gangs.

In Niagara we've seen some major biker busts of the years, some of
which included significant cocaine trafficking charges perhaps
creating a false impression of how their money is generated.

The bread and butter of many of these gangs is pot. That intelligence
officer told me that every time someone in the region bought marijuana
they were putting money into the pocket of organized crime.

Which, I need not say, comes with consequences well beyond smelling
bad and getting a case of the munchies.

By regulating it like cigarettes, you slice off a significant source
of criminal income, make it safer for citizens to acquire and
generating more tax resources that can be used by police and public
health officials.

I'm not saying pot use is, on the whole, a moral good. It is no more a
good thing that cigarettes or alcohol.

But politics is about grappling with reality to create the best
possible outcome or society as a whole.

To ignore reality is what is appalling and unethical. And the sooner
we come to understand that as a community, the sooner we can move on
to more serious problems.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt