Pubdate: Sat, 11 Jun 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Page: A9
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Dan Brown


The Trudeau government's plans to change the legal status of 
marijuana may have some unintended consequences, including making 
more potent drugs harder to find.

That's according to one former dealer in London who, like the other 
small-time operators who make up the bulk of the city's underground 
sales force, sold mostly marijuana for about a year before moving on 
to legitimate pursuits.

"In a sense, it's more of a hobby or a supplementary income," the dealer said.

Marijuana is their main product, but they also sell ecstasy, MDMA and 
mushrooms to the odd customer - drugs they don't keep in their 
regular inventory, but can procure upon request.

Once pot becomes readily available through legal sources, they won't 
have any reason to sell those drugs since their main business, 
cannabis, will theoretically be closed to them.

At least one expert in addictions agrees with the dealer, at least as 
far as "really low-level dealers" go.

"For the most part, those dealers are users. They're not 
entrepreneurs," said Paul Whitehead, a Western University sociology 
professor emeritus whose specialties include criminology and 
addiction research. "These are not people who are accumulating wealth."

Whitehead's primary concern is how allowing the recreational use of 
marijuana will affect minors. In other jurisdictions, he notes, 
changes in drug laws have made pot more available to minors - the 
very group of people that legal controls are supposed to protect.

"The controls, they actually become less" on those who are under the 
legal age of buying marijuana, Whitehead said.

As with alcohol, some young people will find someone over the age of 
majority to make purchases for them. Or they gain increased access to 
the stash belonging to their parents, Whitehead said.

The dealer notes there is a great deal of nervousness among drug 
sellers in the city. "The language the government has used so far is 
extremely vague," the dealer said of Ottawa's public pronouncements 
so far on the topic.

However, the dealer is confident the potency of cannabis will 
improve, as happened with alcohol once the Prohibition ban was 
lifted: "It would increase the quality overall."
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