Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jan 2016
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 North Bay Nugget
Author: Thomas Sutton
Page: A4


This is in response to John R. Hunt's column The saddest or highest 
of times which appeared in the Jan. 9 Nugget.

To the editor:

In the column, John R. Hunt posed the question I'm sure many people 
are asking themselves: When pot becomes legal, will they try it?

As someone who "came down on the side of law and order to resist 
pot's temptations," It's clear the decision is not weighing very hard 
on Mr. Hunt's mind. But as he reflects on his 60 years of experience, 
he comes away with some questions that Canadians really ought to be 
asking themselves.

Given the number of people dying from legal and illegal drugs, would 
things be different had marijuana been legalized in the past?

If it becomes legal, what obligations does the government have to 
those who were penalized unjustly?

Most of the public has made up their minds: Penalizing people for 
smoking pot wastes public resources. They aren't wrong.

According to the Senate special committee on illegal drugs, "the 
annual cost of fighting illegal drugs for federal agencies only is 
over $500 million."

Consider that expense while people around you discuss the ethics of 
putting people in jail for smoking a plant that treats glaucoma. Most 
people want to legalize it and forget it, but people deserve answers 
to Mr. Hunt's questions.

He is right when he says "the whole drug scene is a mess," and it 
isn't just marijuana that we should be concerned about. We need 
consistent, well-informed, and ethical drug policies in this country. 
It's too bad the federal political scene is equally messy. From 
introducing mandatory minimum sentencing under Stephen Harper to a 
Throne Speech that promised to legalize it under Justin Trudeau, the 
official word on Parliament hill is mixed.

For those who favour pot or who just don't care, the story will end 
at legalization. Even Mr. Hunt is moved by the "number of times he 
met honest and hardworking folk who cheerfully admit they 
occasionally enjoy a puff or two."

It's clear to me that those in favour of prohibition are only now 
starting to see the implications of their stance. The momentum is 
against them. But even those in favour of legalizing pot should be 
taking Mr. Hunt's questions seriously, because if we don't seek 
answers what stops this mess from happening all over again?

Thomas Sutton

London Ont.
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